Jo Welch, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability Nursing, and chair of Positive Choices event 2011 speaks to Find out about Positive Choices and why Jo sees it as such an important event for everyone involved in RNLD jobs in the UK. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

OK, Jo.... What is Positive Choices?
Positive Choices is a two day conference. We host it at different locations every year. Through Positive Choices we try to enable students and RNLD nurses the chance to network, learn about changes and ideas in learning disabilities, and socialise with like-minded people. This year Positive Choices is taking place over two days, April 7-8th, in Hertfordshire. It’s our 7th Positive Choices event. We have our own facebook page which I’d like to tell people about - Positive Choices Facebook page Before we discuss Positive Choices more closely, tell us about your learning disabilities career experience? I began my career in the care sector as a volunteer. I have worked in long-term institutions and in residential care services as well as a job as a community nurse. I’m now a tutor at the University of Hertfordshire helping our students become the RNLD nurses of the future! Why did you get involved in Positive Choices and why? I went to a Positive Choices conference in Belfast, with some students. It was just amazing to see all these students who’d taken the time and energy to get themselves there and take part. After meeting the people behind the event and then, subsequently, being invited to help I signed up immediately! Why did Positive Choices start? It began with one student. They’d been told that they should have been an adult nurse! Imagine! You’re asked why you’re studying learning disability nursing, and then being told it’s a waste of time. This particular student disagreed strongly and, admirably, their tutor felt the same. That tutor was Helen Laverty. Helen, together with some colleagues, invited other like-minded industry advocates to come to a conference to support students in their ‘positive choice’. It’s taken off from there. No other branch of nursing does this. It’s great. It encourages learning disability nurses to maintain links with each other after they qualify. It helps the learning disabilities industry as a whole. How are RNLD jobs viewed by the nursing industry generally? Learning disability nursing is often seen as a less glamourous option than adult nursing jobs. But this is unfair. Learning disability nursing provides an unbelievably valuable resource for the health and social care industry in the UK. That’s why we’re passionate about Positive Choices. It’s an event that raises the profile learning disabilities nursing. What’s the working world like for the newly qualified learning disabilities nurse? When you’ve been in the nurturing environment of education the reality - the practicing world of nursing - may come as a bit of a shock. Students spend three years studying. But it’s only when they graduate and register and begin their careers that they start their 'real' education! Thanks very much to Jo Welch RNMH, BSc (Hons), PGDip (Applied Psychology), PGCE Find out more about Positive Choices and join the Positive Choice's Facebook group