Ensuring that the best possible care is delivered to people with a learning disability must be a “key priority” for health services in Northern Ireland, under new government plans.
The Northern Ireland Action Plan for Learning Disability Nurses was launched last month by Northern Ireland health minister Edwin Poots and chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle.
The plan is Northern Ireland’s response to the UK-wide Strengthening the Commitment initiative to modernise learning disabilities nursing and improve experiences and outcomes for patients.
“This road map provides a road map to guide the delivery of learning disability nursing throughout Northern Ireland”
The aim is to support and develop learning disabilities nursing in the “context of an evolving learning disability service agenda”, the action plan states.
It will be implemented and monitored by a regional implementation group, which will report to the office of the CNO on an annual basis.
The plan includes a workforce review of registered learning disabilities nurses that will “consider all sectors and locations where these nurses work and will include nursing support staff”.
It will also identify the need for and support the development of extended specialist and advanced roles for learning disabilities nurses to “ensure an expert skills base is available”.
Mr Poots said: “This action plan aims to ensure that people with learning disabilities of all ages, today and tomorrow, will have access to the expert learning disabilities nursing they need, want and deserve.
“It provides a road map to guide the delivery of learning disability nursing throughout Northern Ireland, ensuring that this small, specialist and very precious resource is used to the best effect within our health and social care system,” he said.
Northern Ireland CNO Charlotte McArdle said: “I am delighted that we are now at a stage to formally launch our specific action plan for learning disability nurses in Northern Ireland.”
She added: “Whilst there will need to be an implementation process for the action plan, its success will depend on robust professional leadership within the profession and a sense of ownership by every single learning disability nurse in Northern Ireland.”
This action plan was developed by the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council, in partnership with the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety.