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I work as Clinical Nurse Manager within Children Disability Team whereby I manage Community Learning Disability nurses (CNLD), an Intensive Treatment Team with inpatient unit for children. This specialised service provides timely multidisciplinary intervention to children and young people who have an intellectual disability with complex behavioural and/or mental health difficulties within a community and/or hospital setting. I am responsible for prioritising and allocating cases to the appropriate service and overseeing the proposed treatment plan for each child based on a biopsychosocial model. Within my clinical role I carry out ADHD assessment for children with intellectual disability and practice as a Nurse Prescriber.
I qualified as a Learning Disability Nurse (RNLD) in October 1996 after completing the Project 2000 nursing programme graduating with a Diploma in Learning Disability Nursing from University of Ulster. My Nursing career began in Stradreagh Hospital (WHSCT) which was an inpatient setting for Adults and Children with an intellectual disability. I gained invaluable experience in a variety of settings from Assessment and Treatment Unit to Sever/Complex Behavioural Unit and Complex Physical Health Care Unit. After two years’ experience within the hospital I decided to branch out into community settings, first being a Respite Unit for adults and children with Intellectual disability. In 2000 I took up a post in voluntary sector with an organisation known as Challenge which is now part of the Praxis Care Group. This post was to develop a work skills project for adults with an intellectual disability which was completely different from any form of nursing that I had previously practised. This post was very diverse and completely unique at the time and it challenged me to think outside the box regarding care provision for people with an intellectual disability. I gained great insight into collaborative intra-agency working in this post.
In 2004 an opportunity became available to return to work in WHSCT as a Nurse in Day care. This role was caring for adults with an intellectual disability who had complex physical health needs in a day care setting. During my time in this post I was seconded to undertake the specialised practice qualification and I qualified with a BSc Hons (2:1) degree in Community and Public Health in Learning Disability Nursing (CNLD). Following this qualification I then applied for a further secondment for 6 months to become the first Acute Liaison Nurse in Northern Ireland. My community nursing career commenced following this post. I was initially working with both Adults and Children with an Intellectual Disability as a CNLD from 2007 until 2015, and specifically disaggregating to children services in 2011 where I continued to work as CNLD based within the Children Disability Team. In 2013 I completed the non-medical prescribing course and although I am currently working as a manager I still continue my clinical role as a nurse prescriber.
I have been fortunate in my career and the roles that I have undertaken so far have all been varied and I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from each of them. The highlight for me is being the first and to date the only Acute Liaison Nurse in N.I. I enjoyed this role immensely, educating nursing staff in general hospital about the needs of individuals with an intellectual disability so that they could make reasonable adjustments to enhance the care given to individuals with an intellectual disability.
I relish working alongside children, young people and their families in providing meaningful therapeutic input to improve their and their family’s lives. Being a Nurse Prescriber allows me to have autonomy within my practice, assessing children, prescribing medication if necessary and providing timely interventions.
To take every opportunity that comes their way and always draw from other nurses experience. Rise to the challenge to improve and develop services for this exceptional client group that we have the privilege of working with.
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