21 years is a long time, but 1997 was the year that set my path to where I am today. Only 18 and still living at home with my parents, the household finances became poor, and I had to leave college and get a job. I had done voluntary work at the SCOPE centre and admired the work done by the care assistants there. I applied for a job in a local nursing home for older adults and was thrilled to land a post three nights a week as an auxiliary.
I met my Husband whilst working in a care home, and we both knew that one day we would love to be nurses. Sadly, the nursing home was due to close and I took a brief job in community care which was somewhat challenging when you cannot drive! Fast forward to 2001, and I found a job being advertised for an A grade post with the health board in a long stay hospital for people with Learning Disabilities.
Initially, I had concerns about working in a hospital that housed people in large numbers, but I went along for interview and was told that I would be supporting the Service Users in their transition from long stay hospital to suitable community homes and into independent living.
I jumped at this, as it was something I was passionate about. I met so many wonderful people and felt privileged to have been part of a change in the way they lived their lives and fulfilled their own dreams and secured homes of their own. I worked on two wards until they were empty and accompanied five gentlemen to a new house and began my new role as a band 4 support worker.
I’m a passionate believer in equality, social justice and fairness. I still dreamed of being a registered nurse with the ability to fight for rights, choices and empower people to get the best health care they can. It was then I knew that Learning Disability nursing was for me. I felt as though maybe I had left it too late? My manager put me forward for a CertHE that would give me the entry requirements needed to enter my training. It took two years to complete whilst I carried on working with two fantastic mentors by my side. The course allowed me to enter year two of the training due to APEL. It suddenly dawned on me, that yes! I can do this! It’s not too late.
I learned so much from service users. I learned how to interpret their communication to best meet their needs, advocate for them to receive good standards of healthcare, and overall see personality, and individuality in every person I support.
I shall be starting year two of the BSc (hons) Nursing: Learning Disabilties in just a few weeks. I still have to pinch myself that I am about to start doing something that I have dreamed about for so long. I am counting down the days until I start. I thought that approaching 40, nursing was something I would never be able to do. I heard other support workers say that they were “too old for all that now” when they were only a few years older than me. I say that if you have the passion, the enthusiasm and the desire to make a difference to the lives of people with Learning Disabilities, then be the change you want to see. Make today the day you start. It will be the best decision you ever make.
Emma Rapier - Student Learning Disability Nurse (September 2018)
You can train to become a Learning Disability Nurse at University of South Wales, you can find more information on the USW website: https://www.southwales.ac.uk/courses/bachelor-of-nursing-honslearning-disabilities/
You can also contact Rachel Morgan - Specialist Lead for Learning Disability Nursing via email:
For more information on the CertHE in Healthcare Nursing Support Worker Education course, please email Joanne Smith (email@example.com)
, then be the change you want to see. Make today the day you start. It will be the best decision you ever make.A