Change that leads to better lives

The future of Learning Disability Nursing

“The subtleties of looking after a patient with a learning disability are unique. The knowledge these nurses can bring to an organisation is essential to promote patient centred care to all”

A LD nurse picture

NDTi have partnered with NHS England and Improvement to explore the state of learning disability nursing in England today. In January 2020, Paula McGowan, a campaigner for better healthcare for people with learning disabilities and autism, asked her social media followers and members of various online groups and forums a series of questions about the profession. The aim being to hear from those with direct experience of learning disability nursing, whether as learning disability nurses themselves, other health and social care professionals, family carers or other interested parties, about:

  • the way learning disability nurses are trained,
  • the skills that learning disability nurses have,
  • the value learning disability nurses bring to health and social care,
  • how learning disability nurses are viewed by other professionals, families and people with learning disabilities themselves,
  • the challenges learning disability nursing currently faces,
  • what the future might hold for learning disability nursing.

This report draws on the data collected from respondents to the questions asked in these areas. It reflects on and provides insights into the narratives that surround learning disability nursing from the perspectives of those with direct experience of the profession. It also challenges the profession itself to take on, develop and, where necessary, change these narratives for the betterment of itself and the services available to people with learning disabilities and their families.

We found that learning disability nurses, other health and social care professionals and family carers all agree that where they are known about and utilised, learning disability nurses provide an invaluable service, but there are currently too few nurses trained to ensure that everyone with a learning disability who needs them is aware they exist or able to receive their support.

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