The Royal College of Nursing is devising a short film to promote learning disability nursing as an exciting career option to young people as part of efforts to address a chronic shortage.
The project ties in with celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of learning disability nursing as a distinct profession with events planned across the country.
It also comes amid widespread concern about shortages of learning disability nurses, with fewer people coming into the profession and courses facing closure.
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The idea for the film came from the RCN’s Learning Disability Nursing Forum, which was looking for ways to raise awareness of the role among young people starting to think about career options.
“There is a chronic shortage of learning disability nurses and there are lots of initiatives going on in different areas to try and address that. But the forum committee felt that we needed to target people earlier,” forum chair Simon Jones told Nursing Times.
“If you talk to people who are learning disability nurses currently nobody ever seems to make it as a career choice – they either come into it by accident or they have a relative with a learning disability,” he said.
“So, we felt we needed to get people making a positive choice much earlier in their careers,” he added.
The film is targeted at young people aged 14 to 19, and will be deliberately designed to grab people’s attention on social media.
“We wanted something visual that we could circulate in a variety of areas”
Mr Jones said: “We wanted something visual that we could circulate in a variety of areas. We as nurses often get asked to go into schools but we also felt we could use Twitter and social media to get this message out.”
The initiative has been made possible with £12,000 project funding from the RCN, with Spectrecom Films winning the tender to produce the short animated film clip.
“The video is only going to be about 90 seconds because that is what people engage with. It really is a first step and then at the end of the video there will be directions as to where you go next,” said Mr Jones.
“We decided on an animation rather than taking heads as that’s a bit boring,” he said. “So there will be some really strong graphics with a voiceover but actually you don’t need the voiceover, because we’re aware a lot of people look at social media with no sound on so it has to stand on its own visual merits.”
Mr Jones said those involved in the project were in the process of agreeing the script, but the aim was to appeal to young people’s social conscience and promote learning disability nursing as a “force for social good” as well as an “amazing” job where “every day is different”.
“We’re saying ‘Do you want to change the world?’ and reverse social injustices,” said Mr Jones, who hoped the message would appeal to young people keen to do “something really interesting and exciting”.
“We decided on an animation rather than taking heads as that’s a bit boring”
It will highlight the fact there are about 1.5million people with learning disabilities in the UK and go on to describe learning disability nursing as one of “the most varied and life-changing careers in healthcare”.
The film, which will be tested with young people, will also highlight the “huge range of skills and talents” deployed by learning disability nurses who “always look at things differently”.
Mr Jones said the project would also have input from the RCN’s students committee.
The hope is the film will be completed by April in good time for RCN’s annual congress in May and that it will be shared widely by nurses and others, including being screened as part of the many learning disability nursing centenary events taking place this year.