An innovative UK first training programme has secured the Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA) and the University of Stirling a shortlisted place at the SCVO charity of the year awards.

They have been chosen as finalists in the Perfect Partnerships category for their new course ‘Huntington’s disease (HD): An enabling approach to supporting families’. The course is designed as a continuous professional development qualification for health and social care staff from all sectors and disciplines as well as family members of people living with HD and others with an interest in learning more about the condition.

Developed by the charity and delivered by the university’s School of Applied Social Science the first student intake from a variety of professional backgrounds completed the first course earlier this year.

“I’m delighted to have been chosen as a finalist at these prestigious awards. It’s been a brilliant journey working with our colleagues at the university to make this course possible. This will be a high profile platform for further raising awareness of Huntington’s disease. There are still so many people who live under the shadow of silence of this genetic condition and it is our hope that being considered for this award will help to gain recognition of the challenges they face as well as the incredible efforts by the Huntington’s community to combat this illness.” said chief executive of the Paisley based SHA, John Eden.

HD is a hereditary progressive condition that causes changes to muscle control, thinking processes and can cause long-term mental health issues. The average age of onset is between 33 and 45 and those living with the condition will require 24 hour care as it progresses into its later stages. Each child of someone diagnosed with HD is at 50% risk of developing the condition themselves. There is no cure.

It is estimated that there are around 1100 people living with the condition in the country with another 5000 potentially at risk.

The 200 hour module was delivered over 12 weeks on a part time basis utilising a blended learning approach with two study days held at the Dementia Services Development Centre followed by 11 weeks of online learning. The teaching team was led by Dr Louise McCabe, senior lecturer in Dementia Studies.

“It has been a pleasure working with the Scottish Huntington’s Association and my thanks go to them, my colleagues at the University and the families and people with Huntington’s disease who helped inspire and guide us. The first intake of students really enjoyed the course and we will continue to work with the Association to adapt and refine the course for the benefit of people living with HD,” said Dr McCabe.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh on June 4.

Anyone interested in supporting the partnership’s bid can vote for them HERE