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100 years of learning disability nursing being marked by University of Cumbria

Learning disability nursing students trying their hand at Makaton signing

An important area of nursing is 100 years old in 2019 and the University of Cumbria – a key UK provider of newly-qualified nurses and other health professionals – is gearing up to mark the anniversary.

Those studying the BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disability) course in Carlisle and Lancaster are working with lecturers to devise a series of events to mark the milestone throughout 2019.

Around 60 of them discussed ideas during their annual one-day learning disability nursing conference, which took place at the John Sentamu lecture theatre, Lancaster campus, recently.

Learning disability nurses support people with learning disabilities, usually as part of a multi-disciplinary team, and work in settings varying from prisons and hospitals to being in the community. They help clients to lead their lives as fully and independently as possible.

Lecturer Sarah Duffin said: “Learning disability nursing is a specialty that can often be overlooked. It has been a recognised specialty for 100 years in 2019 and it offers the opportunity for us all to raise the profile of what we do and how that helps our communities.

“Learning disability nurses work absolutely everywhere from wards and general nursing to being based in specific learning disability services, prisons and sexual health clinics.

“Being a learning disability nurse offers a varied, fulfilling and rewarding career. All of our students have gone on to employment.”

She added: “We’ve asked our current cohort of students to each come up with a pledge of what they will do in 2019 to help improve the lives of those with learning disabilities.”

Students closed the conference by taking part in a Makaton rendition of the festive favourite ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’. Makaton uses signs and symbols to help support spoken language.

Senior lecturer Austin Dorritty gave a presentation on his research into autism at the conference and Amy Shaw, a forensic nursing expert who works with those who come into contact with the criminal justice system, gave an address.

University of Cumbria alumni Kirsty Loyns, who works at the Brian House children’s hospice in Blackpool, and Linda Turner, quality and safety lead for the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, also addressed the audience.

Jo Marshall, Learning Disability Nursing programme lead, said: “After the fantastic event, the lecturing team and students are highly motivated are excited to get involved in the celebration of 100 years of this fantastic profession that will take place throughout 2019.

“Some events will be local but we will also be supporting and attending national events to raise awareness of the profession and the amazing career prospects it presents both now and in the future.

“We are very proud of our profession and in particular our wonderful students who continuously demonstrate the value and passion necessary to deliver the high standards of support that people who use services rightly deserve.”

Job prospects for qualified learning disability nurses are rapidly expanding due to increasing public need.

Graduates of the University of Cumbria’s BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disability) degree are eligible to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council register. All secure employment after graduating and 93 per cent state that they are satisfied with the course.

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