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An insight into the life of a learning disability nurse

Abisola Abe in the Lavender Garden

Abisola Abe in the Lavender Garden My name is Abisola Abe, a learning disability (LD) nurse for adults here at BHRUT and I have been part of the team since April 2018. I am currently one of three LD nurses covering both King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital and feel immensely proud and privileged to be part of this specialised function and look forward to the team expanding in the near future!

A bit of background…

The role of an acute LD nurse is all about advocating for people with a learning disability and autism, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made and ensuring the best possible care is provided to LD and autism patients during and/or after their hospital visit or stay.

Our everyday role is to capture and support any patient with LD and autism attending our hospitals, but this also extends to other hospital staff, families, and carers of LD patients. It is important that we as LD nursing staff recognise that sometimes people with learning disabilities are faced with difficulties and inequalities to accessing care. As such, our Trust aims to ensure that we offer ‘person-centred care’ and empower patients by involving them in the decision making about the care they receive to help overcome such issues

Who do we work with?

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, we work closely with a variety of teams such to ensure we involve specific professionals to tailor to the needs of the patient while maintaining our ethic of ‘person-centered care’:

  • General practitioners (GPs)
  • Social workers
  • Community LD team
  • Schools
  • Family members 

Delivering equitable care

This involves supporting ward staff to:

  • Ensure LD and autism alerts are in place
  • Promote the use of the hospital passport
  • Complete our LD good practice pathway
  • Check for consent and mental capacity issues
  • Identify patients’ communication techniques
  • Provide ad-hoc training to support staff

We like to keep a record of where our patients are in the hospital this is captured by the learning disability database. We review patients on the ward to ensure they are receiving the best care, for example:

  • Working with ward staff, ensuring awareness of the individual needs of patients
  • Ensuring there is clear communication with patients about the care and treatment they are receiving in our hospitals
  • Ensuring families and carers are also informed and kept in the communication loop

Why I absolutely love my job

It’s an autonomous role and it requires me to be confident in my own opinion, judgement, and assessment. It pushes me to think outside of the box and work well under pressure. It has developed me to be a good all-rounder, have the empathy and ability to communicate well with the patients themselves, making sure their wishes are upheld, and the different health professionals involved in their care.

The job does come with its own challenges, such as supporting patients with challenging behaviour or no communication technique, advocating for patients without families, and making reasonable adjustments that are out of the ordinary. The great feedback we get from our patients and their families through our LD survey outweighs the challenges faced most of the time. It is very rewarding when you can make such a positive difference in the life of patient and their family.

We are very luck at our Trust to have three LD nurses to support patients and staff to deliver the best possible care for patients with LD and autism.

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