On my journey becoming a Registered Nurse: Learning Disability I have embraced every learning opportunity offered to myself.
In the first year of University I was fortunate to have the privilege to go along to a Strengthening the Commitment meeting with Professor Ruth Northway. This really set the scene about where we are at with Learning Disability Nursing and what we need to be doing when looking at service delivery and policy.
I was also lucky enough to go along to the Mencap’s conference ‘Hidden now Heard’ project held in Cardiff where I first came across an inspirational lady named Sara Pickard. Sara is a project officer for Mencap and is a council member for Europe for Inclusion International team. Sara helped facilitate the conference and also presented around her role in this project. What stuck out for me was that Sara represented the collective experiences of people with Learning disabilities. She may have been 'hidden' not so long ago, but is now being heard - reflecting on the exploratory work undertaken to understand the experiences of people who lived in the long stay hospitals.
In my second year I attended the ‘Believe in Every Child’ conference which was hosted by 1000 Lives, Public Health Wales, Sharon Williams, who is a Learning Disability Nurse herself. During this conference, the chair of the conference was Geraint Jones - the Lead Ambassador for the Engage to Change Programme. His passion and energy were infectious. He is most certainly made for his role, and his passion shone through when he talked about truly involving people with learning disabilities in the workplace. This really resonated with me, as inclusion can be achieved if we continue to break down those barriers together.
A mother’s perspective; Beth Morrison shared her powerful story about her son Callum and the lasting impact of physical restraint that has left on him. Hearing Beth’s and Callum’s story has reinforced to myself the importance in not being afraid to question the use of seclusion and physical restraint. And finally, attending Positive Choices conference this year has left a lasting impact on me.
Seeing MixIt perform humorous yet socially minded topics about people with learning disabilities really empowered me as a student learning disability nurse.
As Nurses, we are told that developing effective communication skills are essential, and that taking reasonable steps in adapting our communication to meet the needs of a person are vital. The biggest communication problem we have is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply. If we listened to understand more often then I am sure that people with learning disabilities are saying ‘We have the same rights and needs as everyone else.’ One of the roles of a nurse is to challenge these barriers and break them down one brick at a time; putting policy (and making it) into practice. Strengthening the Commitment is not just about policy but it is also about making a real difference for people with learning disabilities and continuing to break down those barriers. As put very nicely in the words of MixIt ‘Here us Roar!’
For more details on BSc (hons) Nursing: Learning Disabilities, please see https://www.southwales.ac.uk/courses/bachelor-of-nursing-honslearning-disabilities/ or contact Rachel Morgan via firstname.lastname@example.org