Teaching people how to make a choice means we have to respond appropriately to the choices that they make: That is no different for us as learning disability NURSES as it is for the client group we serve:
All my career (which spans nearly 40 years – yes I was a child when I started) people have said to me:
Why did you bother with learning disability?
Is it too late for you to change branch?
You should have done mental health?
There’s no future in it
No one’s really interested in learning disability nursing
But I made a positive choice to be a learning disability nurse! I wanted to promote both the ordinary but also the sensational life choices that people want to make.
I moved into education because I needed a bigger canvas on which to draw!
We created positive choices to ensure:-
that student nurses who make that POSITIVE CHOICE have a chance for them to get together
To be part of the majority not the minority
Celebrate what they do
And the positive choices they have made
Alongside people who have a learning disability
I wanted learning disability nurses to not only have a corporate identity as registered nurses, but be aware of listening closely to the vibe of their tribe to ensure they don’t lose sight of the incredible experiences that are out there for them to share with people who have a learning disability.
For some of us learning disability nursing has always been a positive choice; one made as a conscious decision at the start of our careers, for others it’s something that came along by chance following practice experience or a chance encounter (www.learningdisabilitynurse.com) Whatever the path that took the individual into learning disability nursing it is a career path that requires great resilience.
Does that resilience need to be greater than any other field of nursing? Arguably no, but given recent spotlight issues in professional nursing services for people with a learning disability then one could argue yes:
We (nursing) are an evolving profession; we develop alongside science and society, but in learning disabilities it’s often that bit quieter: changes is policy, philosophy and attitude often see the role of the RNLD marginalised and the existence called into question, and when things go wrong in a small area (no matter how big that wrong is) the debate about the future and benefit of the RNLD is raised again.
But we still choose to work with and for people who have a learning disability, through partnership, co-production, advocacy and spending time ensuring that individuals get what you and I take for granted in environments where people live, work, learn and have fun. We do make a difference
And you can too by remembering three words!
Unique – individuals receive care based on their unique needs
Effective – that has to be effective in its delivery
Appropriate – and appropriate for the current situation