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Thinking about a career as a Registered Learning Disability Nurse?

23 Jun 22

People looking for a rewarding and fulfilling career are being encouraged to consider the option of pursuing a career as a Registered Learning Disability Nurse. 

There are a wide range of options available, both in terms of training and as a career, as highlighted during the charity Mencap’s Learning Disability Week, which is running this week.

Jacky Vincent is the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust Executive Director of Quality and Safety and Chief Nurse and has worked in mental health and learning disability services since starting her nurse training in 1990. Jacky’s experience includes both community and inpatient services and she has held several nursing leadership roles at the Trust,  and is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Trust provides health and social care for more than 400,000 people with mental ill health, physical ill health and learning disabilities across Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk and Essex.

Jacky said “As a Registered Learning Disability Nurse myself, I feel really passionate about making a difference and giving people the opportunities to live the best lives that they possibly can. It is a real privilege to work in this area.”

“Unfortunately, training as a Registered Learning Disability Nurse is not widely known about. It is a unique and specialist field of nursing and brings with it many diverse rewarding and fulfilling opportunities, working in a number of health, social and private care settings. It is important that the profile of Registered learning Disability Nurses is raised, as they play a key role in supporting individuals with a learning disability, including helping to improve or maintain their physical and mental health and reduce barriers to enable an independent and fulfilling life.”

Professor Jackie Kelly, Professor of Health and Social Care Leadership and Dean of the School of Health and Social Work (HSK) at the University of Hertfordshire, is also a Registered learning Disability Nurse, having started her nurse education journey in Surrey in 1987.
In her current role, Jackie has strategic responsibility and oversight for the leadership of HSK, one of the largest schools of study in the University. Supporting more than 6,000 students delivering undergraduate, postgraduate and postgraduate research programmes, degree apprenticeships and a wide range of contemporary continuing professional development (CPD) courses, across allied health professions, midwifery, nursing, and social work.

When asked about her inspiration to undertake a career in this field of nursing, Jackie said:

“When I started out in my career as a learning disability nursing student, I had no idea of the scope of the profession, nor of the career opportunities that were open to me. I had some early experience working in a special needs school as part of a previous course and this engaged my interest in working with people with learning disabilities. It was really by accident in the beginning.

“But I was inspired by the personal drive of people to achieve independence at whatever level possible for them, and I noted with frustration the many barriers in their way in general society and in their day to day lives, I wanted to make a difference, even if just for one person. As a Registered Learning Disability Nurse, I found it so rewarding to see how small life skills could be broken down and capabilities built, working in partnership with the person adapting to their needs, working alongside their family and support networks. Seeing people’s sense of achievement in realising their potential and optimising their independence, was and remains so rewarding.

“People with learning disabilities faced then as now, a great deal of discrimination, or were not visible at all in day-to-day society, having been shut away in hospitals or other institutions. Undertaking my nursing education programme opened my eyes to the wide range of needs for people and their families and recognising that for the majority of people they remained with or near to their families, with wide support networks enabling their independence.”

If you are interested in a career working with people with learning disabilities, there are a wide range of options open to you at the University of Hertfordshire, to study learning disabilities nursing at undergraduate level on our BSc programme, postgraduate level entry MSc, as well as through degree apprenticeships and pathways through our Nursing Associate Programmes.  For recruitment opportunities at the Trust go to  https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/careers/

To contact the University of Hertfordshire and speak to their admissions teams and talk with our students who will tell you their inspiring stories email ask@herts.ac.uk   

Learning Disability Week is Mencap’s annual campaign to make sure the world hears what life is like if you have a learning disability.


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