HOW THE WEBSITE CAME ABOUT
Anthony Green, Sean Ledington and Tracy March were finalists for the Fiona Law award in 2011 at the National Network of Learning Disability Nurses (NNLDN) conference in Bangor. The three students had entered a competition at the largest UK student learning disability nurse conference ‘Positive Choices’ in Hertfordshire. They had been asked to give reasons why learning disability nursing was safe in their hands.
Fiona Law Practice Innovation Award 2011
Finalists were given the opportunity to take part in a project to come up with the ultimate marketing campaign to increase the number of people considering becoming a Learning Disability Nurse. The group quickly realised that to truly increase awareness of Learning Disability Nursing they had to increase the project from the original poster idea, to a total social media campaign. This would include Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Flickr and Linkedin pages. All of these sites with an additional poster design and social media blogging would help raise awareness of Learning/ Intellectual Disability Nursing across the four countries of the UK.
Our First Project Meeting At Wolverhampton University
The team first met in August 2011, we designed the framework for the poster (see ideas below) and set up the social media pages. We also spent hours in between our studies gathering the support and endorsement of some of the leading individuals and organisations associated with Learning Disability Nursing. We were kindly given front page space in Learning Disability Practice by Colin Parish to highlight our project (see pic below)
Learning Disability Nursing Awareness Research & Poster Feedback
Part of our campaign was to increase awareness of LD nursing so we came up with the idea of formatting a presentation that would be shown to potential students, from this we could find current awareness levels and the impact the presentation might have.
Tracy also went to local colleges and did a short presentation to several groups of students. The students were a variation of ages, backgrounds etc and were in classes of BTEC health and social care, access to nursing and nurse taster days, in total 88 students were involved. Before starting the presentation Tracy asked each class how many of them knew you could do learning disability nursing and 68 did but 20 did not, showing that learning disability nursing is not always discussed when students enquire about nursing.
The next question that Tracy asked before starting the presentation was how many of the students were considering Learning Disability Nursing? And only 13 said they were which out of 88 students was a small percentage. However at the end of the presentation the same question was asked again and the amount of students who would consider Learning Disability Nursing rose to 35 showing the interest in Learning Disability Nursing had almost trebled. This showed that just by giving information about what a Learning Disability Nurse role entails resulted in an increase in interest. Tracy felt that if she could do this in a short presentation, then what could the website and poster achieve? it could be amazing.
The feedback we got from our all our surveys and college presentations were also saying that the poster design was not quite there. We decided to meet at Nottingham University in Jan 2012 to go over the poster design again. We met up with Helen Laverty and she came up with the idea of trying to link the phrase ‘for a career that takes you out of the box’ to the poster; the light bulb moment had arrived and we came up with some rough drawings of the new poster design.
The original idea was to have a very small basic website that would be about 6 pages and would give the basic facts on learning disability nursing and the career options on offer. A Skype meeting with Professor Bob Gates from Hertfordshire University inspired us to aim higher. Bob put us in touch with lots of influential people within nursing and also offered to take part in a video endorsement, which you can now see on the home page of this site. Two of the first people to really get behind the project were Anne Norman (RCN) and Hazel Powell (MLDN). Both were very enthusiastic about the project and invited us to a RCN event in Leeds.
So Anthony and myself attended the Modernising Learning Disability Nursing (MLDN) event at Leeds and gave an overview of our work with the Fiona Law project and the plans we both had to take it on further with a professionally designed website and the formation of a UK network of learning disability nursing awareness champions. The response was amazing and very inspiration to us both and from this we were able to gain provisional financial support from two sponsors to enable us to produce a much more informative website.
Both of us came away from that event thinking there was a need for a site that would showcase learning disability nursing as a career but also one that allows networking and sharing of good practice. The website content and its aims were growing on a weekly basis. Not sure how we fitted it all in really but shows what can be done with a bit of passion.
We put in hundreds of hours of unpaid work between us to get the campaign live but we knew how much it would benefit our branch of nursing. We have both caught trains criss -crossing the UK at our own expense but been constantly amazed at how many people want to support the site in any way they can.
The website, unlike the Fiona Law competition, aimed to be a long term venture where each year new students and nurses share responsibility for its content and management. We both want our site to be the first choice when you are either thinking of becoming a nurse, training to be a nurse or are a qualified nurse. We want the site to have direct input from all levels of nurses and for it to be a place where other branches of nursing can come and discuss issues and good practice.
The setting up of the website has meant we can link in with our social media pages, provide forums for discussions and also give access to more detailed information for anyone thinking of becoming a learning disability nurse. The website aims to become the number one site for all levels of nursing by providing access to a plethora of websites and resources all under the banner of learningdisabilitynurse.com .
Since its launch the website has gone through a few design changes, sometimes planned, sometimes due to database issues. This latest redesign is to cater for easier access to blog management for allthe LDN team.