Learning Disabilities Nursing
Welcome to the Career Pathway for Learning Disabilities nurses in Northern Ireland. The development of the Career Pathway was a key priority stemming from the Northern Ireland Action Plan. I hope you find it useful in whatever pathway you decide to take.
“The reason people become learning disabilities nurses are varied but one thing is universal, they make a vital contribution to the care and welfare of vulnerable people”. (Public Health Nursing Division, 2014, Strengthening the commitment: one year on). Being a Learning Disabilities nurse provides the opportunity to work with people with a learning disability and their families across the life span, from early years until end of life and consequently there is the potential to work or specialise in a diverse range of settings or roles. Within this Career Pathway, you will see evidence of this and the range of roles, responsibilities, skills and competencies held by Learning Disabilities nurses across Northern Ireland.
Being core and competent members of the wider multi-disciplinary team, Learning Disabilities nurses will have an in depth understanding of the physical and psychological health needs of the person with a learning disability, will have the knowledge and skills support people who present with a range of complex physical and mental health needs, and who may experience a range of complex behaviours; and using a person and family centred approach to care delivery at all times, will offer and deliver a variety of evidence based clinical interventions, using a range of evidence based resources and tools that is intended to support the person and their family to achieve their full potential.
Find out more about the Northern Ireland Collaborative
Click on the name to view the video
Most Registered Nurses Learning Disabilities (RNLDs) choose to work in a role which enables them to regularly deliver direct patient care providing safe, effective, person centred care on a day to day basis. Through experience, continuous professional development (CPD), mentoring and supervision, RNLDs can develop very specialist and autonomous clinical roles, including Behaviour Nurse, Behaviour Nurse Therapist, Epilepsy Specialist Nurse, Senior Nurse Practitioner, Mental Health Practitioner, Healthcare Facilitator and Community Forensic Practitioner.
Click on the links below to read more about role opportunities in Clinical Practice in the Community and Hospital settings.
Continuous professional development and access to educational opportunities is essential to support the on-going competence and growth of the Learning Disabilities Nursing workforce – this in turn contributes to the provision of safe, effective, person-centred care. All Learning Disabilities Nurses practicing across the range of settings contribute to and facilitate the professional development of students at both pre and post-registration levels aligned to the NMC requirements for learning and assessment in practice. Some Learning Disabilities Nurses undertake specific educational roles in practice such as Nurse Development Leads – responsible for the identification and delivery of CPD specifically for the RNLD nursing workforce in their area/organisation.
Others, as with all fields of nursing practice, may decide to choose education as their career pathway. A number of post and positions are available – from Senior Lecturers, Nurse Lectures and Teaching Assistants based in the Higher Education Institutions -responsible for teaching and delivering the BSc Learning Disability pre-registration NMC Nursing programme alongside a number of post–registration education programmes – to Nurse Education Consultants based in in-service education. All of these posts ensure access to the most up to date evidence based educational programmes aimed at supporting the registrant RNLD workforce to deliver the highest quality care.
Management & Leadership Domain
Managers or Leadership Roles are wide and varied in Learning Disabilities Nursing, and include positions such Ward Sister /Team Leader, Head of Service/ Service Manager, Professional Lead RNLD, Clinical Nurse Manager, Home Manager, Learning Disability Inspector, Intellectual Disability Advanced Practitioner and Manager and Ward Sister to name but a few.
One of the key responsibilities of the RNLD in Management and Leadership positions is to ensure there is strong professional leadership for the profession and that the appropriate resources i.e staff with the relevant skills and competencies to provide patient centred, safe, effective care are available to meet the needs of patients and clients. Other responsibilities include resource management, budget management, leading the development of policies and procedures, ensuring teams are updated and informed and supporting staff to avail of educational opportunities to enhance skills and keep up to date. Click on the links below to read more about RNLDs in management and leadership posts.
Click here to view Leading Care Resources developed to strengthen and support the role of the Ward Sister/Charge Nurse.
Research & Development Domain
Research and evidence based practice is vital to the delivery of safe, effective, person centred care. All nursing practice must be based on a reliable evidence base coupled with sound clinical judgement alongside considering the needs and preferences of individual patients/clients.
Registered Nurses Learning Disabilities (RNLDs) can make a huge difference to the quality of patient care by integrating research and development activity into their professional role.
Within Learning Disabilities Nursing, there are opportunities to be involved in research at many different levels including audit of practice, quality improvement and undertaking research during pre and postgraduate study which all seek to enhance patient care.
Nursing research expands the evidence base and improves clinical practice, and can be a rewarding experience for both nurses and participating patients. Translating evidence from research into practice can make a real difference to people with Learning Disabilities, their families and communities. Currently we are very fortunate that there is a Research post in Northern Ireland specifically for the advancement of Learning Disabilities nursing.