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First time: what's it like on community placement?

Are you wondering what it’s like to do a community placement? We can help with that …

My name is Iain and I am currently on my final placement in Glasgow. It’s a community placement caring for patients who have learning disabilities. This is what I get up to in a typical week.


I have a visit planned for this morning, for a gentleman who suffers from alcohol induced seizures. Unfortunately he has not been keeping any appointments and we have been informed that he has been drinking again recently. I am hopeful that if I go early enough (when the pubs are closed) that I will catch him in. But sadly not.

My next venture is to his pharmacy to see if he has collected his medication, again no. Note to self: write to GP, inform them of current level of compliance and also concerns over possible alcohol intake. I will try again tomorrow.

I have been given a new referral to meet with this week. The description is quite basic: “man has possible touch of Autism”.

The rest of day is spent writing up my case notes and dictating a letter to the GP regarding my morning appointment.


Luckily I have clocked up a lot of hours so today I am off to play golf.


This morning I have been invited to an adult support and protection meeting. It’s a big meeting with people from lots of agencies who are worried about the current lifestyle of a patient. My mentor likes to get me involved in these meetings so I’m thrown in at the deep end in front of everyone and asked for my opinion. Scary I know, but nice to know that my opinion matters. 

In the afternoon my mentor and I talk about a patient that we visited the previous week and collect the assessment results. This gives me the opportunity to voice my ideas and concerns.


I’m busy this morning and leave the house at 0730.  I have four home visits to carry out before I meet my mentor at 1230. 

The first visit goes well, my patient is doing great and is happy to see me, we have a chat about his health and he talks about some of his problems and discuss how we can work together to get around these. 

My second visit is a review of a patient that lives in shared accommodation. The problem is that the house is about two miles away and it’s raining, I have no umbrella and no buses go anywhere near. I arrive (soaked) and we have a joke and a laugh at my condition. The review goes great and my patient is all booked to go on a cruise for a fortnight, all booked by herself, I’m so pleased at her independence.

Luckily my third visit is across the street, (tactically thinking here) but no one is home.

Nevermind, this gives me time to evaluate my prior visits and plan my next. The next house is a ten minute walk away. A new referral, we arrive at the patient’s house and introduce ourselves. The patient is young, fit and healthy and I immediately wonder why he needs a nurse. I was right, he was looking for assistance in seeking employment so I explain what we do and that unfortunately we cannot offer this support, however, I would be in touch with local jobcentre’s for him to attend.


Today I have my interim assessment, my mentor and I sit down and discuss how my placement is going. According to her everything is going great, she quizzes me on some policies and procedures and “what would you do” scenarios. Once the assessment is done I’m told to write up my case notes, if not already done, and go home and enjoy the weekend.

Iain Walker is a third year student learning disability nurse studying at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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