Who we are
NAC is a registered Community Interest Company (CIC), operating on a not-for-profit basis from the UK and providing services worldwide. We are dedicated to the emotional and mental well-being of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Our vision is for the emotional and mental health needs of children and adults with severe and profound intellectual disabilities to be recognised and cared for using evidence and neuroscience-based practices and approaches. What we do to work towards our vision is evidence-based and driven by our values.
What we do
We produce guidance on tools, strategies, approaches, practices and activities that can be used to create emotionally enriching experiences and that do not rely on speech and language.
The experiences promoted are based on practices that are scientifically supported to have beneficial mental wellbeing effects. The role of NAC is to show what they look like for people who rely on others to meet almost all, if not all of their care needs.
These ‘how to’ guides are designed to enable carers and educators to facilitate emotionally beneficial experiences that, whilst not ‘therapy’ can have a therapeutic effect. We aim to give step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow and with accompanying video or audio descriptions where possible. For many of the experiences, no special equipment is required and we do our utmost to ensure that specialist terminology is avoided or explained.
The NAC website enables carers to ‘pick and mix’ from the guidance offered to create individualised, personal collections. You can create up to 8 collections of guidance and return to these for easy access. This works a bit like saving favourites in YouTube or saving pins to your boards in Pinterest.
NAC offers training and consultancy on emotional and mental wellbeing for people who do not use words to communicate. Training can be in the form of attended workshops, online courses and ‘hands on’ experiential sessions.
NAC also wants to work with other individuals and organisations to improve mental health approaches, intervention and services for people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Please contact us for more information.
Why we exist
We set up in 2020 at a time when, in the UK, the need for mental health care was being widely reported and recognised. The long established need for support in this area for people with learning disabilities was highlighted by many working and campaigning in this area. The impact of COVID-19 has been described as causing both individual and collective trauma and the need to find ways to support people through this difficult time has been highlighted.
NAC offers guidance on every day, safe, non-invasive and natural approaches, that can be enjoyable for all, to be used to benefit the emotional well-being of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, a group whose mental health needs can often be unrecognised and unmet.
Our values drive and determine
everything we do:
Integrity and compassion
Taking care of the mental wellbeing of everyone is important and this includes people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities as well as their carers and ourselves.
What works for one person may be different to another and therefore any approach that is safe and is underpinned by science, or shown to bring positive outcomes to a person can be beneficial.
Free at the point of access
People with severe and profound intellectual disabilities should have access to suitably adapted approaches and support that others can access free of charge.
Collaboration and sharing
We value joint working and believe that people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities will benefit most when knowledge, expertise, ideas and resources are pooled and shared.
A note on words and terms used
The name ‘Non-Verbal Affective Care’ (NAC) was chosen after much deliberation because we wanted something that was catchy and also descriptive of what we do. The word ‘affective’ means connected with the emotions and we chose the term ‘non-verbal’ because the activities and strategies we provide guidance on do not rely on verbal language. The use of non-verbal is not intended as a label for the people the guidance is designed for. NAC’s guidance is suitable for anyone who does not use spoken or written verbal communication, regardless of the reasons or causes for any apparent cognitive or intellectual disability. Including the word ‘care’ was important to us because we believe that caring is at the heart of enabling people with high dependency to live a meaningful and good life.
We have used the term severe and profound intellectual disabilities because it is probably the most internationally used and recognisable description. This term encompasses profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities and people with high support needs and complex needs.
We have used the term carer to include anyone who is in a position to use the guidance NAC provides to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of a person or people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. This includes family carers, support staff and teachers amongst many others.
Emotional and mental wellbeing is the phrase we generally use to describe what NAC is aiming to promote. This phrase has been chosen carefully to attempt to encompass both emotional states and mental processes, both of which are important for wellbeing. The term ‘wellbeing’ is used because it can be defined as ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’, whereas the term ‘health’, is generally used to refer to ‘the state of being free from illness or injury’. Emotional and mental wellbeing is more than simply the absence of poor health, it is about the promotion of positive wellbeing and optimum quality of life.