Learning Disability Nurses have a wide range of career options in both clinical and community settings. In this article we take a look at just a few of the roles RNLDs can undertake in the community, and how you can progress your career to a senior level. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

The job of a learning disability nurse can be very different from other branches of nursing. You will be developing a relationship with the clients you’re supporting, and helping them to get the best out of life in a world that they may have difficulty understanding. You will assist them with learning new skills, with their daily living routines and you will help them to develop the confidence to go into work or volunteering if that’s what they want to do.

Being an RNLD nurse is a unique opportunity to have a long term relationship with someone you’re supporting and to see them develop and grow because of the support you’ve been able to put in place for them. Your communication skills are essential in this role, and they are the primary way you will achieve that relationship with a service user.

Learning disability nurses working in all areas of the health and social care sector, in clinical, custodial and community roles to name just a few. If you’re thinking of becoming a student nurse, or are already a student RNLD, this article is for you. We take a look at the community based roles that a qualified learning disabilities nurse could end up working in.

Locality Manager / Operations Manager - Learning Disabilities

This job might also be called Community Service Manager and the main responsibility in the job is to manage the delivery of services and care for people with learning disabilities who live in their own homes or supported living accommodation. There are public, private and charity sector organisations who all employ registered managers that are also learning disability nurses in these types of roles.

You will provide tailored care and support services for each individual allowing them to undertake the activities they choose to, and offering the flexibility to change their lifestyle as an when they choose. You will schedule support workers to carry out various tasks with the individual as well as ensuring all staff receive the necessary training and professional development.

Communication is an essential skill in every role when working with people who have learning disabilities, but this role in particular requires excellent communication skills because you will not only be communicating with your team of support workers, RNLD nurses and other healthcare professionals, you will also need to form a relationship with the clients themselves. You need excellent listening skills, as well as the ability to adapt your communication methods in accordance with the needs of the client.

Service Manager - Learning Disabilities Residential Home

There are always two sides to a service manager or Home Manager job - the business side, and the care side, and the two must work harmoniously together in order to achieve the best outcome for the residents. You will need to manage the recruitment and training of staff, building maintenance and purchasing of supplies with the overall delivery of high quality care.

The service manager has overall responsibility for the delivery of all care and activities in the home, for ensuring safe working practices are adhered to and for ensuring staff are trained to the correct level to deliver the best possible care. The needs of each individual resident will be different, and as such the care they receive will be implemented through a personalised care plan that you will be involved in putting together.

In conjunction with your RNLD nursing qualification, you will also usually need a management qualification such as the QCF Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care Services. If you have several years experience in social care and learning disabilities already, then the old RMA award if you achieved it may still be valid.

Lead Nurse - Nursing Home

Another career path for RNLD nurses that keeps you firmly footed in your clinical skills, is become the Lead Nurse in a nursing home. You will be leading a team of nurses, possibly from a range of different branches, to provide the best possible standard of care. Learning disability nurses nurses are a vital part of the nursing home team, especially for those who may have an acquired brain injury or dementia. Combined with the skills of a mental health nurse and an adult nurse, you can offer expertise from across the spectrum of nursing care to achieve the best outcome for the patient.

You will be supervising the team of nursing and care staff ensuring all care plans are adhered to and updated accordingly. You will be involved in liaising with other healthcare professionals to coordinate external services, and also with the family of the patient to ensure they are kept up to date. Your communication skills and ability to multitask are vital in this job, just as much as any clinical nursing job.

Community Nurse Specialist

There are community nursing roles for RNLD nurses in all different specialisms within the sphere of learning disabilities. Some are based in day centre facilities, others serving clients in their own homes or supported living accommodation. You could specialise in any aspect of learning disabilities and choose to work with children, adults or families, or a combination of those groups. There are also RNLDs who specialise in areas such as people with sensory or physical disabilities, or a health problem such as epilepsy combined with a learning disability.

You could work with someone who requires a learning disability nurse to accompany them to hospital appointments, or if they are admitted to hospital. As an RNLD you will have a unique understanding of the individual and the way they like to be communicated with. A hospital can be a confusing and busy place for anyone, but for someone with a learning disability they need to be able to communicate with someone they trust, and as an RNLD you will be there to advocate for your client.

Community nursing vacancies for RNLDs are usually advertised by the local PCT or health service, but there are sometimes vacancies in the private sector for RNLDs who choose to work within the community.

Follow this link to view all learning disability nurse jobs.

Or find out more about a career in learning disabilities from these people who work in the sector:

Graham Burrell - inspired by learning disability nursing

Barbie Sayers - Learning Disability Nursing and Social Work Undergraduate