The highly prestigious LaingBuisson Awards are seen as the Oscars of the health and social care sector in the UK. The Awards Ceremony takes place on Wednesday 15 November 2018 at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: “We are delighted to be finalists for two such prestigious UK awards for using new technologies to support people to make big changes in lives such as moving home, and for developing early intervention services for children from two to three years of age, using evidence based assessments that demonstrates clear outcomes for children in how they learn, feel and interact, to give children the best start in life.”

The LaingBuisson ‘Innovation in Technology’ Award is for Mencap NI’s use of Virtual Reality Technology in their Housing and Personal Support Service. The learning disability charity uses interactive ‘Virtual Reality’ films and headsets, which helps reduce anxiety for people with a learning disability, allowing a virtual walk through of new housing locations and helping people and their families plan how they want their new home to look, even before it is built. 

The virtual reality technology also allows Health Trust Commissioners to view new accommodation quickly and show people in their care a potential new home without having the stress of travelling to visit in person. Mencap NI have developed the interactive VR films for their housing service in partnership with C60 Architects based in Belfast.

Barry McMenamin, Mencap NI Regional Operations Manager said:

"It’s important that people with a learning disability have a real choice about where they live and this technology will help a lot of people in that process."

"Being able to virtually walk through a new property allows Health Trust Commissioners to quickly view various accommodation we have available and allows others to see if it is suitable."

"It also allows us to remotely plan and adapt properties to fit the people we are working with, in some case even before a property is built or adapted or for people who may be relocating from England"


The LaingBuisson ‘Children’s Service’ Award is for the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast which provides a unique specialist learning environment for 2 to 3 year-old children and offers support and courses for parents. Mencap NI have set up an evidence based assessment of child development to track children’s progress across eight learning areas to create a profile of each child’s individual development.The Mencap Children’s Centre in South Belfast is run in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Christina West, lives in Newtownards, her daughter Lainey attends the Mencap Children’s, she said:“Lainey has been going to the Children’s Centre since September and the difference to her and our lives has been amazing. At Mencap she is just like any other child, it’s like her disability does not exist here, it’s all so positive.

Lainey has learned so much and her communication has developed with learning Makaton sign language, which I have also taken a course in with Mencap, that we can now communicate with each other.The learning programmes that are developed for my daughter are also fun activities that we carry on at home so she is always learning.The support of the staff and the other parents makes the Children’s Centre a lovely place to be involved with.”

The Mencap Children’s Centre uses evidence based learning to develop programmes for young children and involves parents as partners in these programmes at the Children’s Centre and at home. Mencap NI develops support tailored to meet the needs of the individual child, which is underpinned by therapeutic programmes to develop a child’s skills across various developmental area’s.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: "Early Intervention at a young age is crucial for children with a learning disability and their families. Developing learning programmes that parents can be directly involved in is the key to a child’s development and supports the family. Families have the greatest influence on a child’s development and wellbeing. We know that with the right support, at the right time, children with a learning disability can achieve their full potential in life."

The LaingBuisson Awards are now in their 12th year of recognising excellence in the Health and Social Care sector across the UK, the Awards are judged independently and objectively, focusing on the people providing the care.

The Awards Ceremony and black tie dinner at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London will be hosted by Gyles Brandreth, writer, broadcaster and former MP. LaingBuisson are a leading health and social care market intelligence provider for over 30 years providing insights, data and analysis on health and social care market structures, policy and strategy.