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In my role as a Registered Manager, I have been involved with a range of professionals across Health and Social Care, to establish a supported living scheme for individuals who present with Learning Disabilities. Many of these individuals are being resettled from long stay hospital / institutions and have complex needs and behaviours that challenge. Our role in supported living is to create a home from home environment and support their integration into the community.
The supported living scheme was the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. Developing the scheme has been both challenging and rewarding, as initially little was known about this form of care by other members of the multi-disciplinary team. The process was a learning curve for all involved and significant work was required to facilitate its implementation. There were many meetings, discussions and negotiations with partner organisations, before the programme was completed and the supported living scheme became the success it is today.
I commenced my nursing career as a student in the City Hospital Belfast in 1974. During my training we had six weeks foundation training before moving into the clinical area where, as a student nurse, you were supervised and supported by Registered Nurses. The knowledge and experience gained was instrumental in making me the professional nurse I am today. On completion of my training I secured a post in Craigavon Hospital, working in many clinical fields including Surgery, Medical and Intensive Care Unit. During this time I gained further clinical knowledge and skills whilst also developing professionally.
During my nursing career I have availed of numerous training courses and this enabled me to enhance my knowledge and to deliver safe, effective person centred care. At aged 40 I returned to University and completed my training as a Registered Nurse Mental Handicap (RNMH). This was another branch of nursing, requiring slightly different skills but the needs of the individuals were just the same. I had found my niche and an understanding that patient requirements are the same with or without a disability.
Working as a Registered/nurse manager I feel I have been able to make a difference to people lives, advocating on their behalf, giving our clients a voice, a choice and a home.
Training staff and helping change attitudes of professionals to highlight understanding that these are people, the same as you or I, with the same feelings and to see the person first and not the disability.
Gaining the trust of the families, who entrusted their sons/ daughters into our care from a long stay inpatient setting. We have been privileged by their families to help shape a new life for them.
The role of a Register Nurse Learning Disability (RNLD) is the same as any other nurse. To be a good nurse you must care with your heart first and your hands second. You must be able to empathise with your patient and be able to listen.
Most importantly you must continue to learn and to develop professionally by reflecting on your practice. Working as a Registered Manager of a Supported living scheme has opened up a whole new world to me. Every day is a new day and a very different day.
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