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Head of Service for Supported Living

Leadership & Management
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Management

Area of Practice

  • Learning Disability Nursing


  • Hospital Care

Job/Role Summary

I currently work as a Senior Manager in the Northern Trust and have responsibility for supported living, short breaks and adult placement services. I also have Lead Nurse responsibility for Learning Disability Nursing throughout the Trust. My job is to provide strategic leadership in developing services for people with a learning disability liaising and working with statutory, independent providers and other government bodies. I have responsibility of developing and maintaining good nursing practice and governance within learning disability nursing services.


Specific qualifications and experience required

RNLD level 1, RN level 2,BSc Hons Community Nursing.

I have 35 years of experience working with people with a learning disability and their family /carers. My career started in Muckamore Abbey Hospital in 1983 and I qualified as an enrolled nurse in 1985. After 1 year I commenced further training and qualified as a registered learning disability nurse in 1986. I worked as a staff nurse in various wards in the Hospital until the end of 1990 when I was promoted to a community learning disability nursing post in North Down and Ards. Here I worked within a multidisciplinary team supporting and caring for children and adults with a learning disability  and their family and carers. I was seconded from my post for a period of 1 year to the University of Ulster in 1995 to complete my BSc Hons in Community Nursing. In 1999 I was promoted to a Community Learning Disability Nurse Manager post in Homefirst Trust (now NHSCT). As well as my role of managing community learning disability nursing services between 1999 and 2007 this post afforded me the opportunity to work in various promotional secondments to manage adult nursing services. This experience was invaluable and it gave me the confidence to apply for posts that I may not have thought about before. In 2007 I was promoted to an 8b Senior Management Post managing all Learning Disability Services within a geographical locality of the NHSCT. I also held professional responsibility for learning disability nursing. In 2014 my responsibilities changed from locality management to overall Trust management of a number of services while continuing to maintain lead nurse responsibility and that is where I remain.


Career Milestones

I have many career highlights but passing my final examinations in 1986 was definitely one .Another is at the age of 24 being appointed to a Sister’s post in the community .Getting my very first thank you card from a family that I helped was a really big achievement. My nursing identity has always been important and no matter what job I applied for I ensured that I was able to retain that link to my profession, so when I was promoted in 2007 I felt strongly that my experience and profession were fully recognised.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

My job is never dull; it’s always busy and I get great job satisfaction. The part I enjoy the most is meeting and helping people. I enjoy problem solving and coming up with new ideas on how practices and services within my operational and professional role can develop. I really enjoy the diversity of my role and the scope I am given in order to advance and provide better services to people with a learning disability.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

My job can be stressful and difficult but the one key thing is that I am able to maintain contact with people with a learning disability and their families so you need to consider if the balance is right for you before you pursue this type of post. My advice is to think outside the box and see what your experience, training and expertise can bring to a post before you discount it. Challenge others to influence and change and be positive about your profession. Follow your dream and believe in yourself you have so much to offer.


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