The development of learning disability nursing in England and Ireland over the past 30 years is to be explored in a new project looking at the sustainability of the workforce.
Nurses and healthcare assistants are being encouraged to share their experiences with the project, which is being led by the University of West London, Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Nursing.
“Reflecting upon nursing history is a critical component which allows us to progress and move forward”
It is hoped that 20 people in England, and the same number from Ireland, will take part in the two-year study – with half of the group being registered nurses and the remainder HCAs.
Participants must have at least 30 years’ experience working in a congregated setting, such as a group home, hostel or hospital, that has involved caring for a minimum of six people with learning disabilities.
The project will “draw heavily on the oral history tradition, and in particular focus on the sustainability of a unique health care workforce”, according to those behind it.
They said the aim was to collect and analyse data to support and challenge current understanding of the trajectory of learning disability nursing in recent years.
However, those who have previously provided oral evidence to universities in either England or Ireland will not be able to take part.
Dr Colin Griffiths, assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, and Bob Gates, professor of learning disabilities at the University of West London, are leading the project.
They said it presented a “unique opportunity” to contribute to the historical knowledge of this field of nursing both in Ireland and England.
Annie Norman, RCN professional lead for learning disabilities, added: “The RCN really values partnership work in this area.
“Reflecting upon nursing history is a critical component, which allows us to progress and move forward to provide the best care possible to those we support,” she said.
Participants will be interviewed from February to June and findings from the study will be shared next year.