UWE Bristol awards honorary degree to Jacqueline Clarke

Issue date: 22 November 2016

Jacqueline Clarke

Jacqueline Clarke has been awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her commitment to improving services for people with learning disabilities and support for their families.

The Honorary Degree was conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences on Monday 21 November 2016 at Bristol Cathedral.

Jacqueline Clarke, known as Jackie, trained as a professional dancer and singer.

She married and had two children. A girl came first, then a boy who had autism and complex needs.

This inspired her to change health and social care services for her son, to make them as person-centred, responsive, and as safe as they could be. This was the first step in a long line of activities, always focusing on service improvement and sustainable change.

From family support groups in the 1970s, to making innovations in respite care services, and driving home the need for further education opportunities for school leavers who had a learning disability, Jackie continued to identify a need or barrier and do something about it. As her son grew and her networks expanded, she has moved focus a number of times. She was involved in an action group looking at the closure and resettlement of people with learning disabilities from Bristol's long stay institutions. She joined boards where, as a family carer representative, she could ensure families voices were heard and new innovations could flourish.

In 2001 she decided that a good way to improve health and social care services was to directly influence staff providing care and managing services, so her focus turned to the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). Initially influencing one programme for learning disabilities nurses, Jackie has now influenced 21 programmes either through directly working with programme teams, supporting others to do so, or inspiring UWE Bristol academic staff though her presentations at conferences and good practice days.

Jackie also seeks ways to influence government ministers making decisions about services for people who have a learning disability, either by being directly involved or by being involved though groups who share the voices of families, about the current issues in health and social care and ways to improve services.

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