What makes a great learning disability nurse ?

July 1, 2011

Sarah Kennedy Lecturer in Learning Disability Nursing (University of Salford)

“The following list was thought up by a group of professionals we recently consulted with around developing our new curriculum – it’s a pretty full list” !

· good communication skills – the ability to listen and be diplomatic · the ability to ‘think outside the box’ · the ability to challenge theory with practice – not to rely on text books · see everyone as an individual · be approachable · be able to form successful partnerships with service users; carers; and other professionals · someone who respects other peoples experience, observations, expertise, skills and      knowledge – including other staff · someone who is willing to act as an advocate · someone who can enable and empower without taking over · someone who recognises who the expert is, and that it is not always the professional · someone who can network · someone who can recognise the previous experiences of those accessing services · assessment skills · someone who has a comprehensive understanding of various ways of communicating


 Lisa Parker Specialist Learning Disability Therapist – Specialist CAMHS  Listed:

Excellent communication skills, problem solving, thinking outside the box, resourceful, creative, imaginative, good negotiation skills, networking, practical, solution focused, clear and concise, clarity, thoughtful. NOT (necessarily)PATIENCE! this has been the response from many people when I have said what I do, “you must be so patient” but its about recognising people as individuals and responding to individual need., recognising and celebrating what some may see as small steps.


The Department of Health suggest:



This is an important one. It’s not always as immediate as other kinds of nursing. Helping someone with learning disabilities to learn something new is incredibly rewarding, but you must be prepared for progression to be slow.

Communication skills Its a job thats all about interacting with people – so sensitive human interaction is the most important skill for any learning disabilities nurse. You’ll need to be able to talk – and more importantly listen – to all kinds of people with real patience and understanding.

Assertiveness You’ll sometimes need to be assertive to make sure that the people you’re supporting aren’t discriminated against. Working as part of a team with health, social care and other professionals, you’ll sometimes need to stand your ground.

Resourcefulness This is a very varied job. You could find yourself working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings – from small children to adults, with mild or profound learning disabilities, in their own homes, residential care, schools or workplaces. You need to be able to think on your feet to come up with workable solutions to any number of situations.

For more in depth information click on the link : Good Practice in Learning Disability Nursing.

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