Emma Burgess-James and Lauren Bowller, learning disability nurses, have recently joined the team at the Wolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre. As newly qualified nurses specialising in caring for patients with learning disabilities, Emma and Lauren are bringing about a different approach to patient care at the centre.
Patients that are admitted to the Wolfson require intensive therapy following acquired neurological conditions resulting in physical or psychological disabilities. This includes patients who have had strokes, traumatic injuries to the brain or spine, anoxic brain damage, diseases or infections of the nervous system, and long-term conditions like multiple sclerosis. The nursing team at The Wolfson are all adult trained nurses working within a large multidisciplinary team. Lauren and Emma’s skills in working with people that have learning disabilities are therefore hugely beneficial to patients that are admitted to the centre.
Lauren and Emma said, “During our training as learning disability nurses, we worked with a variety of patients with both complex physical health needs as well as mental health and communication difficulties across a variety of settings.
“When challenging situations arise, our training has helped us to ‘think outside the box’ when problem solving and also to work in partnership with other professionals in the team. As learning disability nurses we strive to care for all patients with a person-centred approach which aims to give patients more control and choice over their care.
“We approached the senior nursing team at the Wolfson in our final year of nurse training to talk to them about our skills, knowledge and experiences in learning disability nursing. The Wolfson were very enthusiastic about what we could offer them and have supported us to develop our roles.”
Having learning disability nurses at the Wolfson not only aims to enhance the care of people with learning disabilities accessing the service, but also to enhance the care of all patients. This is done through supporting other nurses on the team to approach care in a more holistic manner. It also means sharing the knowledge and experience that Emma and Lauren have in working with people with complex disabilities to successfully manage their needs in a rehabilitation service, and promote multidisciplinary working. Equally, the adult nurses have shared their knowledge and experience to help Emma and Lauren enhance their skills.
They said, “We regularly link in with learning disabilities teams in the community to keep up-to-date with our own branch of specialist nursing and have had great support from the learning disability lecturers at Kingston University in developing our roles.
“This unprecedented and unique role at the Wolfson has been challenging but extremely rewarding. We are grateful to have been given this wonderful opportunity to promote the developing role of learning disability nurses. We hope that it will pave the way for others to recognise that their skills are not only unique but transferable and beneficial to neuro-rehabilitation and other NHS services.”