In a new series of blogs, learning disability nurses from across Scotland share their experiences. Our first comes from Queen’s Nurse Fiona Mason, who you can read more about, here.
I was honoured to participate in the amazing Queen’s Nurse development programme, receiving my Queen’s Nurse Title in November 2019.
The programme has helped me to reflect on my nursing career to date as well as inspiring me to think about where I want it to go in the future.
I have been a nurse for 26 years, first qualifying in 1994 as a General Nurse. I worked in care homes for the elderly and had a wonderful time caring for them and trying to make their remaining days the best they could be.
However, I had not yet found my passion.
In 2002, I approached the local learning disability team and visited the inpatient challenging behaviour assessment and treatment unit. On this visit one of the patients threw a cup of coffee over me and I though “this is where I belong”! I started working in the unit as a staff nurse and completed my LD conversion course in 2006. When the unit closed in 2007, the nurses became part of our local joint integrated health and social care community learning disability team. What a learning curve, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed!
Our team is split into East and West and I am now the senior charge nurse on the East. I love my job, what a privilege to work with amazing patients (adults with learning disabilities) providing assessment, treatment, support and education which encompasses all aspects of life related to their physical and mental wellbeing. So many of our patients have experienced trauma in their lives and to be able to build a trusting relationship to help them achieve their potential is truly humbling.
Another part of the job I love is working alongside families and service providers, colleagues in primary care and a whole range of other services. We provide bespoke training, advice, strategies and guidance as well as being a support to them during difficult times.
Being part of a truly joint health and social care team is amazing! We work like a well oiled machine and being able to discuss cases with colleagues from different disciplines aids true holistic care and approaches.
We work to break down barriers and enable our patients with LD to access mainstream services when they need to, offering support to the patient and our colleagues in other settings to get the best outcome and to provide the best patient journey possible. With good communication and true joint working across services/boundaries there is little that cannot be achieved.
As a manager, it is very important to me to lead my nurses with a positive attitude. I provide regular supervision as a place to discuss cases and support them with their interests. Self care is encouraged to enable us all to be the best we can, so we can then deliver the best care we can.
I’m in a position of influence, and I’m writing this blog in the hope that others will read and understand a little more about what a learning disability nurse is and does. I also hope that perhaps someone reading may be inspired to join our field of specialist nurses.