From the start, I have felt so supported at the University of South Wales and as my course has progressed it has become more evident that I made the right decision to train as a learning disability nurse, to be able to work towards achieving the best possible health and well-being outcomes for people with a learning disability.
Personally, I feel I learn so much more being hands on and being able to put theory into practice when out on placement. This year I have loved having the opportunity to go on placement with the community learning disability nurses in beautiful West Wales. With the support from fantastic mentors my confidence has grown and I really felt at home and part of the team. This year I have been very fortunate to do all my practice placement in West Wales, the area is absolutely beautiful and the University of South Wales have found fantastic accommodation for myself and other student nurses in Carmarthen. It has been so lovely to be able to come off a shift and be able to go for a walk to the nearby beaches to just chill out and relax. I have enjoyed living in West Wales so much that I hope to move to the area next year when I qualify.
During my community placements, I have enjoyed being able to build relationships not only with service users but their families and carers too. It has shown me the importance of consistency, communication and putting the person at the centre of everything we do.
A moment that stands out during my last community placement is around some desensitisation work. I had been working with a gentleman with a learning disability and autism around going to have a blood test. For several weeks when I visited I was unable to speak to him and get to know him as he was not very keen on meeting new people. His key worker told me that he loved to travel, so the following week I returned with many of my holiday pictures of destinations that he had also been to. On arrival I began the conversation using these pictures and his face lit up. For the first time the gentleman let me into his room and engaged in conversation for around 10 minutes, even showing me what he had bought in town that day. This may seem like such a small thing, but for this service user, just speaking to a new person was a big step and I was so pleased that he was starting to trust me. During the weeks that followed I was then able to build a relationship with him and do some further work towards going for a blood test.
My mentor contacted me a few weeks after my placement had ended to inform me that a blood test has been successfully performed shortly after. The little things really do make a huge difference in learning disability nursing and I cannot wait to begin my third year of training in September.
Lydia Marsden – 2nd year student nurse (USW)