Learning disability nurse

What do learning disability nurses do?

Learning disability nurses help people of all ages with learning disabilities to maintain their health and wellbeing, and to live their lives as fully and independently as possible. 

Learning disability nurses offer help support and guidance to families, carers and friends. 

They work closely and collaboratively with other health, social work and educational professionals, and all members of the learning disability care team. 

Many nurses work in local community services where a lot of care is provided. There are also many opportunities to work in hospitals, or residential, educational and specialist services. 

Careers in Learning Disability Nursing

This is Nursing - Inspirational Stories and Experiences.

Where can I study learning disability nursing?

These London Universities offer Learning Disability Nursing courses:

Useful information

Find out more about learning disability nursing on the Health Careers website.

How I became a Learning Disabilities nurse - Denise's story

Where did you study and what is your current role?

I studied at Kingston, as this was close to my home and I now have two posts within the same NHS trust. I'm a Clinical nurse specialist/team coordinator for a Children and Young Persons Mental Health Learning Disability team, and a Clinical Lead for Learning Disability and Autistic Spectrum Disorder for the trust. 

Why did you decide to become a learning disability nurse? 

I grew up around disability and deafness as a child and then went onto do a BTEC in Childhood studies. I loved my autism and special needs school placements so after a short time in a nursery I went to work at The Children’s trust. The next natural progression was to become a learning disability nurse. 

What roles have you had since qualifying? 

Nurse on a child’s rehab unit, deputy manager at a residential home, community learning disability nurse, Community mental health learning disability nurse, Deputy and Manager of a community mental health team.

What do you enjoy about your job? 

I love seeing the positive changes that occur both within the home and other environments and the joy on parent’s faces when they can actively access the community or activities with their child. I am able to build strong professional relationships with the parents and children although the hardest part is when we, as a team, have to say goodbye when the work is finished or we transition them to adult services. I love to make positive changes across all service lines that will benefit many individuals not just those with a learning disability. 

What do you find most challenging about your job? 

Not having enough time as Clinical lead to make effective change in a timely manner. 

Why did you decide to work in London after you qualified? 

I have always lived on the outskirts of London or Greater London. 

If you could go back in time and give some advice to yourself when you were a student and applying for jobs, what would you say? 

Believe and remember why you came into this profession. Have confidence in yourself and the right jobs will find you in the end. 

How I became a Learning Disabilities Lecturer - Dorothy's story

Where did you study and what is your current role?

I did my pre-registration nursing training at Thames Valley University (now University of West London). I did my Specialist Practitioner training at the University of Surrey. I am currently working as a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Learning Disabilities Nursing at the University of West London. I am also studying for my PhD.    

Why did you decide to become a learning disability nurse?

One of my first jobs, when I came to the UK, was working as a support worker with people with learning disabilities. This was completely new to me but it was from there when I developed a passion to work with people with learning disabilities and decided to train to become a Registered Learning Disability Nurse (RNLD). I felt there was more I could do to change the lives of people with learning disabilities as a nurse. 

What roles have you had since qualifying?

My first job after qualifying was Deputy Manager in a residential home for people with severe and profound and multiple learning disabilities. I moved to do the Specialist Practitioner course and qualified as a Community Learning Disabilities Nurse (CLDN). I worked as an Access to Acute Liaison Nurse for people with learning disabilities. I moved to my local borough and worked as a CLDN and liaison nurse and later became the Lead Nurse in that community team for people with learning disabilities. In 2014 I moved to the University of West London to become a Lecturer in Learning Disabilities Nursing. 

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy facilitating learning for the student nurses, imparting the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years working in health and social care with people with learning disabilities. I also enjoy interacting with service users and supporting them, directly or indirectly to ensure they have good health outcomes and improved quality of life. 

What do you find most challenging about your job?

It is challenging to see the decline in taking up of learning disabilities nursing as a career choice yet we need more of these nurses as there is still more to be done. 

Why did you decide to work in London after you qualified?

I used to live in Surrey and came to London to pursue my nursing studies with the intention to go back when I completed my course but that never happened. I stayed in London after I qualified because I liked the buzz I found and the diversity that the city provided. On top of this, I saw lots of opportunities in London that would support me with my career development as a learning disabilities nurse. 

If you could go back in time and give some advice to yourself when you were a student and applying for jobs, what would you say?

Always speak up on behalf of the people you support and work collaboratively with them and their family or paid carers. Also, go for a job that is close to where you live because a long commute can add unnecessary pressure on you that you may end up not enjoying what you do best as a registered learning disability nurse.

How I became a Clinical Services Manager - Robin's story

Where did you study?

I studied as a mature student (29), at the University of Hertfordshire

Why did you decide to become a learning disability nurse? 

I was employed by a private organisation, offering residential care for young adults on a working farm in the Essex countryside. One day the local Community Nurse came to see her client and we chatted about her role and the NHS in wider terms of supporting people with learning disabilities, which I had virtually no knowledge of. I promptly left, joined the NHS as a Support Worker for a local Specialist Behavioural Team and 18 months later began my Nurse training. She literally re-focussed my whole career in a specific direction, so thank you whoever you were

What roles have you had since qualifying? 

I have worked as a Community Learning Disability Nurse across six London boroughs and I have been in a lead profession/managerial position in the previous four. I also took time away from community teams to be the Transforming Care Programme Lead for North West London for 15 months. I am currently the Clinical Service Manager for the Newham Health Team for Adults with Learning Disabilities

What do you enjoy about your job?

I believe in the NHS and that really helps. If you can wake up every (most) day and value what you and your colleagues are trying to achieve, then job done. Also, people that work in the field of learning disabilities are a different breed. It’s not particularly glamorous, we don't have TV shows depicting us as heroes, we tend to be underfunded in terms of staffing, etc but the staff do it because they love it. We all moan when things don't go according to plan, but we don't give up and I think we are extremely proud to be part of this branch of nursing.

What do you find most challenging about your job? 

The cuts to local authorities in staffing and services have a massive, negative impact on how we as health professionals operate. There is also a disconnect between different levels of the NHS - NHS England, commissioning and frontline services which must be improved if we really want to achieve sustainable change.

Why did you decide to work in London after you qualified? 

I always knew I would work in London. I like the diversity of the population we support and the challenges of working in such a sprawling, eclectic urban area.  

If you could go back in time and give some advice to yourself when you were a student and applying for jobs, what would you say? 

First and foremost, you’re a nurse so don't forget to keep your clinical skills up to date as this will always be attractive to employers. Whilst studying, get involved in Learning Disability-related employment or other opportunities. I worked part-time whilst studying and this additional experience definitely helped to bolster my CV.

Share this page