Role Of The Learning Disability Nurse

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Role of the learning disability nurse

Role of the Learning Disability Nurse


People with learning disabilities often have a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Learning disability nurses work in partnership with them and family carers, to provide specialist healthcare. Their main aim is to support the well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability by improving or maintaining their physical and mental health; by reducing barriers; and supporting the person to pursue a fulfilling life. For example, teaching someone the skills to find work can be significant in helping them to lead a more independent, healthy life where they can relate to others on equal terms. (Taylor, M.J. & Barusch, A.S. 2004, 54-76)

A health trust has been heavily criticised for "institutional abuse" of people with learning disabilities. The Healthcare Commission, which carried out the review at Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust (PCT), said care was "simply not acceptable". It is the second report in six months to highlight neglect of people with learning disabilities. The Commission will now carry out a national audit of 200 NHS and private services in England. The results will be made available later this year. The Department of Health is currently carrying out an internal review to look at whether the NHS should have responsibility for learning disability services.

The review of care at Orchard Hill hospital, community homes in Sutton and Merton and Osbourne House in Hastings was requested after a number of serious incidents, including allegations of physical and sexual abuse. A member of staff was jailed for six years in 2006 after pleading guilty to sexual activity with a woman resident who did not have the capacity to consent due to her learning disability. Although the trust was found to have followed correct procedures when responding to the serious incidents, the Commission concluded that "outmoded, institutionalised care" had led to neglect of people with learning disabilities. It found "impoverished and completely unsatisfactory" living conditions, with some people staying in cramped rooms and only having access to three or four hours of activity a week.


Nurses specialising in learning disabilities will work as part of a team which includes, psychologists, social workers, teachers, general practitioners, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and healthcare assistants. Learning disability nurses work with clients and their families and carers to assess their needs and draw up care plans, monitoring the implementation of recommendations. They work with other nurses and health and social welfare professionals to help clients with basic living skills and social activities to ensure they lead as normal a life as possible. (Taylor, M.J. & Barusch, A.S. 2004, 54-76)

Pham is a five year-old girl who was involved in a road traffic accident that left her with an acquired brain injury and a cervical cord injury. She has a tracheotomy and is ventilator dependent. Pham has been assessed by the clinical psychology that is responsible to assess her mental skills, and develop a cognitive retraining ...
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