What Does a Learning Disability Nurse do?
A Learning Disability Nurse (LDN) helps individuals with learning disabilities to live normal, active and full lives. She will work with a team, a multidisciplinary support group whose function is to facilitate help and engage people with learning disabilities. The job itself, and venues for training, are mostly centered in Great Britain, as the professional title arose in response to the disabled community in the British Isles and the need of immediate and continual care for that special population.
It is primarily work that is centered in residential or community settings, rather than hospitals; with younger children, the LDN may find herself placed in a school setting.
The LDN might be called upon to help a disabled individual with daily living tasks such as feeding, bathing and toilet, as well as cleaning, laundry and shopping. An LDN might also advocate for her disabled patients, recommend improvements for their living quarters and otherwise help them achieve greater self-advocacy.
The LDN will also take on education and training for the disabled patients, in particular training in life skills and venues to employment. She might organize activities, plan outings or assist with family interactions. She will also report regularly to her team members in the field, as well as assist (or perform) assessments, reviews and admissions to medical facilities or treatment centers.
There is usually a shift schedule of varying lengths, since the LDN is required to be on call 24 hours.
Learning Disability Nurse Training
Most accredited nursing programs that are based out of universities in Great Britain carry some forms of Learning Disability Nurse Training, a three year “programme” that includes a year of training in the common paradigms of both disability treatment and nursing. These include:
- Nursing and maternity care
- Communication and observational skills as related to patient care
- The sciences (anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, social work, sociology, psychology)
- Core care and tending skills for the disabled
In the next two years, the candidate receives specialized training in the “learning disability branch” in which they are interested, which would include physical, medical, psychiatric or speech/language disabilities.
In addition, the candidate would fulfill the standard nursing requirement (familiar to RNs and virtually all medical professionals) of 1,000 to 4,000 hours clinical hands-on experience with the patients and living situations in which her specialty places her.
Depending on said specialty, the LDN may find herself working with:
- patients with mental challenges,
- patients with spinal injury (to the point of paraplegic or quadriplegic disablement)
- less than profound brain injuries
- deaf and hard of hearing patients
- blind or low-sight patients
- Attention-deficit Hyperactivity disordered individuals.
The program is near the rigor of the United States’ programs for RNs, and individuals who wish to continue maintaining licensure as a Learning Disability Nurse are well advised to get into (if they have not already done so) a MSN (Master’s degree) program, or its equivalent in the Great Britain, and attain the status as possessor of Master’s of Science in Nursing, since the study and training for particular specializations is far easier, and more competitively matched, with a both RN certification and a Master’s degree.
In addition to all of the above, the candidate for LDN must offer proof of English and math skills, as well as “good health and good character,” somewhat similar to the security checks run in the States for bonding and insuring nurses. It would include a Criminal Records Bureau clearance.
Once the LDN training is completed, the candidate sits for the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) Certification; this certificate is good for five years and may be renewed with proof of 450 hours of sustained training and experience.
Job Outlook and Salary
Since the Bureau of Labor/Statistics carries no relevant information for positions in Great Britain, one can nevertheless be assured of competitive and healthy job markets in this field. The area of LDN, according to the statisticians is burgeoning with new clients, and the need/demand is continuous and ongoing. Job opportunities are “excellent,” as there is a predicted shortfall of nearly 14,000 nurses this year alone.
Starting salary is between £21,176 and £27,534 per annum.
Learning Disability nurse training is obviously the doorway to a bright nursing future.