How Do Learning Disability Nurses Support People?

Patients are increasingly being treated outside of typical hospital settings. The ability to provide medical and nursing services is changing as their numbers rise, and community nurses (also known as district nurses) play a critical part in this growing aspect of our healthcare system.

Continue reading to learn more about the amazing work Learning Disability Nurses do to help some of society’s most vulnerable people.

There are many misconceptions about Learning Disability Nursing and what it entails on a day-to-day basis. Some people aren’t even aware that it exists! Although many learning disability nurses deliver medication via a PEG or NG Tube, give injections, provide wound care, and even work in hospital wards, there is a persistent misperception that they do not have or require the same clinical abilities as adult nurses. But they’re capable of so much more!

The field of learning disability nursing is known as “the field of all fields.” That’s because they can work with a wide range of people in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and the community. They can work with children, adolescents, adults, and older adults in a range of environments, including palliative care, mental health, physical disabilities, and the criminal justice system.

Learning Disability Nurse training brings up a world of possibilities for working with people who have learning disabilities that affect them for the rest of their lives.

These are just a few of the ways that learning disability nurses can help:

1.  Learning Disability Liaison Nurse

A Learning Disability Liaison Nurse works in a hospital, ensuring that patients with learning disabilities have the same access to healthcare as everyone else. They ensure that a patient’s learning impairment does not prevent them from participating in the treatment they require.

People with learning disabilities may have difficulty understanding why they are in the hospital, what they are being treated for, or what treatment options are available to them. They may have physical difficulties travelling to the hospital in the first place. Going to the hospital, or staying in the hospital for an extended period of time, can be a very distressing experience, so this role places the person at the centre of care and supports them through what may appear to others to be a very simple process, but is critical to the wellbeing of people with complex needs.

2.  Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents

Learning Disabilities Specialist Nurses also provide community support to children and adolescents, as well as their families. Children that require this type of assistance may exhibit behaviour that others perceive as demanding. The label of ‘difficult behaviour’ is frequently a way for a person to express their grief or distress in the only way they have at the time.

Learning disability nurses use their observational and communication skills to help get to the root of the problem and facilitate community involvement by teaching new ways to communicate, often in conjunction with reducing external/environmental stressors. They assist young people and their families in coping with the co-existence of a learning disability and a mental health condition in the home and at school.

3.  Mental Health Nurse

It’s not uncommon for someone to be diagnosed with both a learning disability and a mental health problem. This is frequently accompanied with communication issues. People with a learning disability should be able to access a specialist nurse who can ensure that all resources and communication are adapted to the patient’s communication level and make appropriate adjustments to ensure the treatment is successful, given that talking therapies are the most beneficial therapy in terms of mental health. A learning disability nurse’s job includes figuring out how to get around communication barriers so that people may get the therapy they need for their mental health.

4.  Community Nursing

Nurses that specialise in learning disabilities can also work as community nurses, where they can practise independently and manage their own caseload. They can also serve as a specialist nurse in the community, supporting people with learning disabilities in roles like epilepsy specialist nurse and challenging behaviour specialist nurse. Learning disability nurses would liaise with other professionals within multi-disciplinary teams in this situation to help people live with the best health possible in the community.

These four things are, of course, only a small part of what Learning Disability Nurses can do to help the health and well-being of some of our society’s most marginalised individuals. If you or someone you love needs community nursing support, Eben Care’s clinical nurses, support staff and allied health professionals have many years of experience with complex health conditions and/or mental issues. We can assist you with care, services and enablement needs.

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By Chris Evans

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