Despite it being 30 years since I was a student nurse, I still remember those nurses who mentored me, some with fondness and some with dread! The Sister on my general placement who would inspect finger nails and check our hats were correctly positioned! The Charge Nurse who on long night shifts would engage us in philosophical debates as to the rights and wrongs of “social role valorisation” and the other nurses, some who would just expect us to get on with it and others who would gently guide and explain what they were doing and why they did it like that. The input and quality of the mentoring impacted on how I enjoyed the placement and the benefit I was able to get out of it. I now try to remember those feelings when I in turn mentor students.
The Community learning disability nurses in our team welcome student nurses with open arms (which often result in us having “fights” over who is going to be the mentor!) it is refreshing to have a new pair of eyes asking questions and at times challenging practice. It helps to keep us up to date with latest developments and I feel we benefit just as much as the students do. In reality we work as a team, ensuring students get the very best out of what we can offer. Each nurse has their own area of expertise and interests which they are willing to share and we try to arrange visits so the student can gain experience of the different services available in the locality.
However as not only a LD nurse but also Mum to a daughter with a profound learning disability, I have a vested interest into being a good mentor. When an appropriate opportunity arises e.g. On reflecting how a home visit went during the journey back to the office, I am able to tell students what it is really like being a family carer bringing a different perspective into situations. I can share some of the difficulties we face as a family and give possible reasons why the parent appeared confrontational or hadn’t filled in the monitoring sheet…again! Although every situation will be different understanding the 'whole picture' can make a difference to care provided. Although things have changed in those 30 years, the principles of providing good quality person centred care still remain the same. I hope that I am able to use some of the qualities that stood out from my own mentors and 'gently guide' and support students to become the best possible LD nurses, knowing I will be leaving my daughter in safe hands.
Linda Phillips - Community Learning Disability Nurse (HDUHB)
There are places available to study BSc (hons) Learning Disability Nursing commencing September 2018. Please contact Rachel Morgan (email@example.com) for more information.
safe hands in the future.