Meet the team: learning disabilities and autism

Thursday, June 20, 2019


At Thornbury Community Services, our team are at the heart of everything we do – and that couldn’t be truer for our learning disabilities and autism service. Each and every person on our team is truly passionate about providing specialist outcome-focused support for children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism.

To help you get to know the people behind the service, we sat down with Clare Metcalfe, Head of Learning Disability and Autism, to find out more about her role.


How long have you been working for the division?

I have been working for the learning disabilities and autism division since it was first established in May 2017.

What does your role involve? 

My role is to lead and develop our national learning disabilities and autism service. The service specialises in supporting people who present with, or are at risk of presenting, behaviours that challenge.

In a nutshell, I ensure that we are able to deliver the service we promise. This means making sure that Positive Behavioural Support (PBS) is embedded in our services and that outcomes are based around improving an individual’s quality of life. To achieve this, it is vital that we have the best clinicians working with the people we support and that TCS values are delivered in everything we do.

I conduct behavioural functional assessments and PBS plans, as well leading on the training and development within this area. Additionally, I am currently conducting a Positive Behavioural Support Masters at Northumbria University.

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is seeing and hearing stories of the people we are supporting and how their lives have changed, becoming more positive and now having access to more opportunities!

As a Learning Disability Nurse, myself, my ultimate aim throughout my career is to see people communicate more, be able to have more control in their lives, be able to access healthcare services like everyone does and support people through the bad times so they can develop trust that when things get tough people do not leave. Our exceptional clinical team are committed to ensure that all of these things become a reality and that the life living in hospitals and failed placements is a distant memory for those we support.

What attracted you to the learning disabilities and/or autism division?

What attracted me to this position was the opportunity to run a high quality service that is clinically-led so that challenges and risks can be managed effectively, and people are given the opportunity to be a citizen within their own community. I have worked with a number of people throughout my career who have moved around from provider to provider, which in turn has provided instability and has led to further challenges and risks. The opportunity to put all that I have learnt within my career into this has been an exceptional opportunity and one that amazes and challenges me every day!

What do you wish other people knew about working with people with learning disabilities and/or autism?

It is very empowering and rewarding! It’s the little changes in people’s lives that in the long term make the bigger difference. Someone making their own drink for the first time, teaching someone to hold their own cutlery, the first time someone walks past a dog that would have previously caused them so much anxiety they would avoid going out into the community, helping people to use visual aids to communicate better than they have been able to before, supporting someone to understand their own emotions and manage them effectively.

All of these little changes increase self-esteem, trust and confidence in people, which is what we focus on. Within TCS we ensure that we assess holistic needs and concentrate on people’s skills, interests and motivators so that people have the best opportunities in life that they possibly can!

Register today and join the TCS team or find out more about our specialisms: 

Register View our specialisms