Project lead, Professor Katrina Scior, explains the STORM programme:
Adaptation and Pilot Study of Digital STORM
The Covid-19 pandemic and associated social restrictions have changed the way in which organisations are delivering services and support, including to people with learning disabilities. In response to lockdown and the need for distancing, services have largely suspended face-to-face meetings and have supported their members through virtual methods such as web-based video meetings. Many organisations anticipate that they may continue to use virtual methods for the foreseeable future. Virtual methods while not without their limitations, have removed some of the barriers faced by some people around attending face-to-face groups, such as accessing support for travel and lower motivation to attend in the winter months.
Why is digital STORM important?
The immediate need for and importance of STORM to help people with learning disabilities to discuss negative experiences with their peers and resist stigma has been highlighted during the pandemic by self-advocates and learning disability third-sector organisations. Please refer to this UCL Unit for Stigma Research blog post for further insight into the experiences of Covid-19 and the associated restrictions for people with learning disabilities.
Digital interventions are increasingly available to the general public and are widening access to healthcare. To date, people with learning disabilities have been mostly excluded from e-health provision and related research and are excluded from the growing benefits that digital health/psychosocial interventions have to offer. By adapting STORM to digital STORM, we are contributing to much needed research on the use of digital interventions with people with learning disabilities. Digital STORM will potentially allow more groups of people with learning disabilities to develop stigma resistance and to improve their self-esteem and mental wellbeing.