Reflecting the Commitment – Derby #StC conference 18th June 2015

June 24, 2015

I arrived in Derby the night before the StC15 conference and met up with three of the team to continue our journey to increase awareness of learning disability nursing and to re-launch the nursing champion’s project.  The whole team do this in their own time and at their own expense. I salute the dedication of the team who continue to carry out all this amazing work in their own time. It can be quite hard at times to fit in all the commitments that can bring on top of the daily job.



So after dropping of our stuff and having something to eat we met a group of fellow delegates at a local pub. It is amazing how much people who has a passion for learning disability nursing have in common (and I do not mean a drinking problem). The discussions cover lots of areas, but at the heart of it is a common thread of wanting a better quality of services for the people we support.  We had to go early but I believe networking went on until closing time.


Every learning disability nurse conference is like a school reunion, people you may only meet every few years, but who you know that you can call on for support and vice versa. Chief Nursing Officers, Professors and Consultant Nurses networking with students and newly qualified nurses on an equal footing, with everyone valuing the fact they are all part of this select nursing branch. It is something quite unique within many professional occupations and is something I really love. The work of Positive Choices has had a major impact on this type of bonding between LD Nurses. For over ten years they have ran the biggest conference for student nurses. I have kept in touch with so many people after meeting them for the first time at a Positive Choices Conference.


The StC conference was a major success (well done Rebecca Hill) with 250 people enjoying a mixture of presentations, culminating in the most emotional talk I have ever witnessed by Hayley Goleniowska  @downsidesup .Hayley asked for LD Nurses to be part of a solution to the poor information and advice given to parents who are told their child may have a learning disability and that it may be best to have a termination as it will ruin the parent’s life. I will be talking about the LD nursing champions project a bit later but maybe this is something a select number of champions could undertake by talking to midwives and consultants on improving ways  they support prospective parents through this process.

Hayley Goleniowska at StC15


So as many of you will now be aware won the English award for its contribution towards Strengthening the Commitment. It was a really special moment, one that will remain with me for a lifetime. I am not really into entering awards as I tend to shy away from being in the limelight. The reason I entered an abstract on behalf of was for exactly that reason. Too many fantastic RNLD’s are producing innovative projects but feel it’s nothing special and do not apply for national nursing awards. This is something that has been discussed for years and maybe we need some of the nursing champions to help potential entries to national nursing awards so that the real value of learning disability is showcased to a bigger audience.


The messages of support and congratulations were overwhelming. Many were saying that it was about time our work had got recognised. But whose fault was that? Our own really for not highlighting the positive outcomes we have achieved. Graham Burrell had said at the StC conference that “He was proud to be a RNLD”, maybe it’s time we all started to shout out now how proud we are of our profession. Let’s publish how great our work is and share its outcomes to a larger audience. Well we are going to start the ball rolling by giving a summary of key achievements LDnurse has made since its launch in 2012. Maybe you would like to write a blog for our website to share your own work and the positive outcomes it has achieved. Just as a side, writing a reflective style blog can also be used as evidence of work under NMC re-validation rules coming out in October 2015. Key Achievements


Built a social media presence that allows nurses of all levels to be able to network and share good practice and reduce the professional isolation that can sometimes occur. It has helped many national organisations to raise awareness of key policies and events that support evidence based practice.


We are really proud of how our Facebook page has built into a really vibrant community, with 100’s of posts per week, 1000’s of replies and nearly 5000 members. We feel it has become the social media home for learning disability nursing. Our social media community supports and mentors all levels of nurses. To have a meeting place where experts across all areas of learning disability nursing are willing to share their knowledge is invaluable. Lots of members post questions on a daily basis and without fail the quantity and quality of the replies are of the highest standard. A lot of student nurses have given us feedback on the value of our social media pages, both as a resources and a place to meet likeminded individuals.


Our website that has received over 500,000 hits since its re-launch on 31st Jan 2015 and at its original launch had a video from Bob Gates endorsing our aims and philosophy. It offers a variety of resources for people considering a career in nursing; student nurses and qualified staff. It has become a central point for anything associated with learning disability nursing and has seen a growing number of quality guest bloggers adding rich content on a regular basis. Over the next 12 months the site will expand to include regular podcasts and jobs feed. The most exciting development will see the launch of the A-Z app which will give everybody the ability to access key learning disability related resources in one place via a smart phone or tablet. We feel this will have a massive effect on practice.


Been on the front cover of Learning Disability Practice and had an article published (thank you Daniel Marsden and Colin Parish)


Presented at numerous national conferences including Positive Choices (Edinburgh) and at the NNLDN conference in Hertfordshire. launch at Edinburgh Positive Choices


Presentation at NNLDN in Hertfordshire


Our re-launched Nursing Champions project aim to increase awareness of careers within learning disability to schools, colleges and health & social care venues across the UK. Champions will also be supporting first year student nurses with the common myths of being told they are not real nurses and that they should change branch quickly. The project will expand over time to allow champions to increase awareness of other inequalities they may have a passion for.


In summary LDnurse has helped LD nurses across the UK and beyond to keep in touch; to keep up to date of changes in practice and to keep inspired. It supports people considering a career in this branch with the information they need, and continues to offer support and resources for all levels of learning disability nursing. It has changed the way learning disability nurses networks and will continue to raise awareness of this great career option Team Members (alphabetical order)

Anthony Green
Chris Hardy
Graham Burrell
Margaret Hazeldine
Michelle Parker
Pen Clark
Ros Golightly
Sean Ledington
Steve Hardy


Memories of the event c/o #StC15 hashtag search or via Flickr at 

Sean Ledington




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