A small group of learning disability professionals have set up a fortnightly Twitter chat to discuss issues relevant to learning disability nursing.
A recent subscriber to Twitter in my role as Nursing Times’ Student Editor for Learning Disability, I soon realised there were some excellent nursing debates going on.
#WeNurses facilitate a weekly chat which brings together resources, events and expertise within the nursing community. During one of these chats, three RNLDs and I spotted the opportunity to bring LD professionals together to discuss specific LD issues.
LD nursing is the smallest of all branches and we often work in isolated roles. Therefore the use of Twitter is a brilliant opportunity for international networking, giving greater opportunity to share good practice.
The following week we met electronically and discussed how to take it forward. We chose the name #LDnursechat, decided on fortnightly chats and picked a subject for our first chat - safeguarding. Coincidentally the issue we decided on was also being discussed via #WeNurses. We had already started advertising #LDnursechat throughout our networks, so we approached #WeNurses who kindly offered to help us facilitate the first chat and we agreed to branch off half way through.
The chat attracted over fifty nurses from all over the UK and some international nurses.
At the start of the chat everybody was reminded about the NMC (2008) guidelines on confidentiality and #WeNurses provided a link to social networking guidelines for nurses.
Discussions centred on what to do if you thought a patient was being treated abusively, how to ensure that concerns were listened to and experiences from people who had witnessed poor care and raised concerns.
It was an excellent way to share experiences about safeguarding issues as there were professionals from many different healthcare settings. When we branched off #LDnursechat discussed the difficulties for people with Learning Disabilities (PWLD) in being able to raise concerns themselves, or even knowing that the care they were receiving was poor or abusive.
This led to the importance of advocates for PWLD to ensure that their concerns are identified and heard. The main themes we identified were: better education at all levels of the profession in how to recognise abuse; the need for regular service reviews (which should include PWLD and their families); changing culture to create a more transparent process for whistleblowing as people are still fearful of repercussions and whether advocacy should be statutory.
It was an exhilarating experience realising that we can share expertise and experiences in this way. If anyone has any topics for future #LDnursechats then follow us on Twitter @LDnursechat and let us know. If you have never used Twitter before and would like to try this way of networking then here are some tips on how to start.
The transcript of the joint chat and the branched off #LDnursechat is available here. You can follow me and the other organisers jointly as @LDnursechat. To join the fortnightly Thursday chat at 8pm use the hash tag #LDnursechat. The next chat is on 27 September.
@LDnursechat owned and facilitated by Michelle Parker @LDstudentnurse, Daniel Marsden RNLD @dmarsden49, Sally Evans RNLD @salsa442, Sam Abdulla RNLD @samabdulla.