Learning disability nursing boosted by new professional development opportunities - elearning for healthcare
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Learning disability nursing boosted by new professional development opportunities

Kieron Bradshaw, 9 May 2023
Image for the Learning Disability Nursing CPD Award training programme, with Ben Briggs, David Harling and Ellie Gordon.

All learning disability nurses have the opportunity to develop in key specialist areas following the launch of the Learning Disability Nursing CPD Award – an online training programme open to anybody with an interest in learning disability nursing.

As well as providing a programme to enable progression to various levels of practice and specialist roles, the training can be used to enhance core knowledge, and can help to decrease variances in practice between services. It also provides an opportunity for people from other nursing backgrounds to gain knowledge of the fundamental aspects of learning disability nursing.

This fantastic step forward is part of work to advance a dedicated career structure for learning disability nursing. The training provides a programme of continuing professional development and enhances the skillset of learning disability nurses working within specialist areas of community, inpatient, acute and primary care services.

Discussing the the training, David Harling, National Deputy Director for Learning Disability Nursing at NHS England, said:

“The launch of the new Learning Disability Nursing Continuing Professional Development Award signals an important marker in both the evolution and investment in our profession. For over 100 years learning disability nurses have been providing expert care to people with learning disabilities and their families, and the advent of this programme will enable them to further their knowledge and skills.

“The programme has been created by learning disability nurses working in a variety of specialist areas of care and we hope it will become one of requisite benchmarks supporting specific roles, be this within job descriptions or as part of the learning disability nursing career framework.”

Ellie Gordon, Senior Nurse; Autism, Learning Disability and Mental Health at NHS England, said:

“It has been a real pleasure to be part of this piece of work. Collaborating with learning disability nurses to progress from an ‘ask’ to a programme of continuing professional development that not only supports knowledge development, but also provides tools and resources to enhance nursing specific skills.

“When we first launched the All England plan for Learning disability nursing back in 2020, we had a clear vision that we not only needed to attract more people into learning disability nursing, but we also needed to develop those nurses who specialised in this area. We also knew that to develop such specialist nurses we would have to develop something that really spoke to nurses and nursing, and which showed how much we value and appreciate all that these great nurses do. I really feel that with this training we have started to do just that, and I look forward to continuing to work with learning disability nurses to develop and grow this great profession.”

The training supports the delivery of the All England Plan for Nursing Disability Nursing, and aims to support those thinking about a career in learning disability nursing, those training to become a learning disability nurse, and those currently working as a learning disability nurse.

It includes a range of topic areas relating to contemporary learning disability practice, including a foundation module which all learners must complete, followed by 3 specialist clinical pathways that can be chosen from:

  1. Learning disability nursing within specialist inpatient settings
  2. Learning disability nursing within community, forensic and intensive support
  3. Learning disability nursing within primary and acute care liaison

The programme forms a Qualification in Specialism (QiS) to provide a standardised pathway for nurses to develop in their specialist area, and is mapped to the Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting People with a Learning Disability.

The curriculum is also mapped to:

  • Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) Code of Conduct to support revalidation
  • NHS England Learning Disability Improvement Standards
  • NHS England Long Term Plan
  • HEE Competency Standards for Learning Disability and Autism

Providing the training online ensures ease of access and allows nurses to train at their own pace, fitting it around their busy working schedule.

Accessing the training

The first session of the training programme is now live, with the 3 specialist clinical pathways to follow soon. To find out more and to access the training, please visit the Learning Disability Nursing CPD Award programme page.

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