CBE for expert behind pioneering learning disability service

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Prof Barry Carpenter
Prof Barry Carpenter

The expert who helped launch two pioneering learning disabilities services has become a Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours.

Prof Barry Carpenter, who has a daughter diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, was awarded the honour for services to special educational needs.

He is chair of the advisory board of the learning disabilities care provider MyLife, which runs residential support at Burbank, Hartlepool, and a community service at Willowmead in Surrey.

Since opening in August last year, the six bungalows in Hartlepool have become home for service users who receive round the clock support from their own specially-trained care workers. Each bungalow is purpose-designed for two people, with colour schemes and layouts to help the development of people diagnosed with autism and other learning disabilities

In Surrey, a team of up to 50 staff at the new centre at Willowmead will provide intensive support to 13 of the people with learning disabilities helped by MyLife, and other service users in the community. Some will live in studio flats and a shared house on the site, run by the Reside Housing Association.

Prof Carpenter’s work underpins MyLife’s philosophy of care for its service users, and he continues to be closely involved with residents, and training staff.

MyLife aims to set a national standard, enabling people with learning disabilities to live in the community instead of inappropriate and unsuitable environments – including hospitals – and homes not considered fit for purpose.

Prof Carpenter’s ‘Six Pillars’ – of transformation, quality housing, personalised care, wellbeing, evidence-based practice, and engaged living to service users – use a holistic approach to manage potentially challenging behaviour.

His pioneering research-based approach focuses person-centered support for people with learning disabilities.

Prof Carpenter said: “It’s a wonderful honour to receive this recognition. I know as a father how much attitudes towards caring for people with learning disabilities have changed hugely in the 30 years I’ve been working in the area, and overwhelmingly for the better.

“Everybody in the sector works amazingly hard but there’s still a lot to do, particularly as the demographic trends show there will be more and more people with disabilities who need help in the community.”

MyLife CEO Mark Goodman said: “This is great news. As chair of our advisory board, Barry’s judgement and knowledge is the cornerstone of our approach.

“The unparalleled depth of his experience, as an academic, frontline worker and father is vital to our work and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honour.”

Prof Carpenter holds honorary chairs at the Universities of Worcestershire, Limerick, Hamburg, and Flinders (in Australia), and is an acknowledged international expert in caring for people with learning disabilities. He had previously been awarded an OBE.

A former head teacher in Essex, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, and an advisor to Health Education England, he has published over 100 academic articles and ten books on special needs, and lectures around the world on supporting people with complex needs develop a full and rich life in their community.

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