Learning disability nurses support people with learning disabilities, usually in a multidisciplinary team, and are concerned with their clients’ health in the widest context. They help clients of all ages to live their lives as fully and independently as possible, while respecting their rights and dignity. Learning disability nurses work with clients and their families and carers to assess their needs and draw up care plans, monitoring the implementation of recommendations. They work with other nurses and health and social welfare professionals to help clients with basic living skills and social activities to ensure they lead as normal a life as possible.
The focus of learning disabilities nursing is on influencing behaviours and lifestyles to enable a vulnerable client group to achieve optimum health. The aim is that they should be able to live as equal citizens in an inclusive society where their rights are respected. Learning disability nurses have the knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities to work in partnership with people of all ages who have learning disabilities, and with their families and carers, in order to help individuals to develop individually and fulfill their potential in all aspects of their lives, irrespective of their disabilities. Learning disability nurses are mainly based in community or supported living settings.
Tasks typically involve:
using expert communication skills to engage with vulnerable people;
Interpreting and understanding behaviour and evidence-based outcomes to develop individual care packages;
coordinating client care programme reviews with other health and social welfare professionals, and completing appropriate paperwork;
organising home visits and attending GP clinic appointments to monitor and discuss progress with clients, their carers and their GP;
planning activities, social events, and holidays with clients (in supported living settings);
liaising with hospital admissions staff to plan clients’ care needs on admission and discharge (e.g. housing and medication);
advocating on behalf of people with learning disabilities and encouraging self-advocacy;
carrying out group work with clients on issues such as problem solving, anxiety management, healthy living and behaviour management;
supporting staff and carers in the community;
organising emergency admissions;
completing management plans and reports;
assisting with tests, evaluations and observations;
teaching students and/or training health and social care colleagues;
maintaining awareness of local community activities and opportunities;
supporting the agenda for equality and equal access to all community and public services;
campaigning to ensure better healthcare outcomes and services for people with learning disabilities.
Article written by Antonia Clark, London South Bank University Date: June 2010 © Copyright AGCAS & Graduate Prospects Ltd