Debbie Austin

I am a family carer; my daughter Lucy has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and autism.

I work for the NHS on behalf of the North-East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System as a Strategic Learning Disability Workforce Development Manger-family carers. This role draws not only on my lived experience as a family carer but also on 30 years of experience working as a physiotherapist, the last 12 being in a Community Learning Disability Team.

I am a passionate advocate about the importance of investing in families as valued partners in the support of their loved ones with a learning disability. Alongside my NHS role I am a parent carer co facilitator for the Challenging Behaviour Foundation PBS course, for the Early Positive Approaches to Support (E-PAtS) programme (University of Kent- Tizard Centre), and also for the new Positive Family Connections programme (Warwick University and Cerebra).

I also deliver my own autobiographical training called “Lucy Our Journey with Positive Behavioural Support,” and am one of the contributors to the recently published paper Positive Behavioural Support in the UK: A State of the Nation Report.

In response to a lack of local provision I set up an early intervention group for children with Down Syndrome.  Up Up and Away ran for 4 years (2014-2018) until all the children had started school.

Proud mum to Lucy and step mum to Tara and Ethan, I live with my husband Ian and Lucy in Kendal Cumbria and PBS is our way of life.

In my spare time, you will find me playing the saxophone at a festival or carnival with Blast Furness a street band from Ulverston.