Education leaders have called for a new competency framework to strengthen learning disability training for all branches of student nurses, following concerns many staff working in health and social care settings have limited knowledge in this area.
In a report looking at how to better equip students to work with people with learning disabilities, academics found restricted time and an “overloaded” curriculum was providing a barrier to learning.
Called Learning Disabilities - Meeting the Educational Needs of Nursing Students, the report highlighted its survey of 17 universities, which found that in around 50% of cases lack of time was a problem.
The report noted: “Pre-registration curricula across all fields of practice are extremely busy and full. The consequence of this is the level of priority that is given to learning disability issues.”
“Pre-registration curricula across all fields of practice are extremely busy and full”
Learning Disabilities - Meeting the Educational Needs of Nursing Students report
One survey respondent added: “It feels at times that students’ needs are not fully addressed or taught, the curriculum is overloaded, there is no space to do justice to the subject.”
Written by the Learning and Disabilities Nursing Academic Network and the Council of Deans of Health, the report called for a standard competency framework to be developed.
It also recommends that people with learning disabilities, their families and carers should be involved in all aspects of curriculum design and delivery.
Universities should consider a range of activities, including clinical simulation, as a way delivering learning disability education, it added.
Sue Beacock, senior lecturer in learning disabilities at the University of Hull, said: “This report will support colleagues and policy makers to better understand current challenges and to meet the growing need for all health and social care staff to know how to work with and care for people with a learning disability.”
Professor Jessica Corner, chair of the Council of Deans of Health, added: “Although this report is focused on the fields of nursing, this is an issue for all health and social care professionals. Our hope is that this will be a first step in a wider debate about education across the professions”.