Former NHS Nurse and manager now contemplating the NHS from outside

I am an adult nurse who started their training in 1980. We received education and training across many spheres of nursing practice, but nothing specifically about the specific needs of people with learning disabilities. I worked in a long stay mental health facility for 8 weeks during my training, people with severe mental illness were mixed together with people who had learning disabilities and some people who probably started off with little in the way of an illness of any kind. As general nursing students we were able to offer some more general nursing care, after all everyone develops physical illness. The first time I encountered patients who were learning disabled was when I was a District Nurse. I had little knowledge of their specific needs and learned most about their conditions from their carers (family members and care home staff). What I did know was that I needed to offer care, compassion and time. I needed to give time and to listen and to use my instincts. I didn’t assume someone with a learning disability had no feelings, could not experience pain or that I knew best. My knowledge looking back was woeful, but to the best of my knowledge no one came to serious harm or died because of me.

Over the last decade or more, nurse training in the UK has been split into different areas of care – adult, children, mental health and learning disabilities. In the main nurses remain within their sphere of practice, despite the obvious cross over between disciplines. My own training failed to prepare me to care for many people I have encountered along the way, but there are ample opportunities to learn along the way. There can be compassion and there can be kindness. Yet again today I am ashamed and embarrassed by a report that suggests that nursing care in this country isn’t all it is cracked up to be. But I refuse to believe it has to be like this!

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Comments on: "Caring for people with learning disabilities when they are sick" (5)

  1. Truly woeful to read the report Julie. One of the biggest problems is vocational attitude and academic necessity. The former has to be paramount, as nursing must not just be seen as ‘a job’ nor as a status symbol with the ‘pretence’ that nursing is the same as being a doctor. The latter has become the norm but does not necessarily produce efficient and compassionate nurses. Paper work and aptitude are necessary but aptitude and capability should be focused on more than the ability to tick the right boxes and fill in copious amounts of paper work be it through academia or ward ‘work’.

  2. I agree that there now appears to be a generation of nurses who have better things to do than to nurse. There also seems to be a cultural problem with caring. Another horrible report.

  3. [...] learning disabilities – Google Blog Search « Clarksville Assistant Coach Doesn’t Let Disability Deter Dream – Southwest [...]

  4. Hi Julie,
    Great post, I really enjoy your blog! I am developing an information site for Nursing Assistants / CNA and I look to your blog as a great example of what a blog should be. Look forward to sending some links your way!

  5. [...] SpecialEdPost — What Can Go Wrong When Only Standardized Tests Are Used to Measure Special Ed ProgressCaring for people with learning disabilities when they are sick [...]

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