My course gives me the training to become both a learning disability nurse and a social worker and I aim to use my understanding of both these specialisms to draw health and social care together in the future.
People with learning disabilities have always inspired me, they face many challenges every day yet take these in their stride, often with a smile. It was this that inspired me to write the words below in my application to become involved in the UK Steering Group for “Strengthening the Commitment”.
“There is nothing I am more proud of than the profession I am going to be entering. I feel that working with people with learning disabilities is my passion; I would love to be involved with the UK steering group for strengthening commitment because it would enable me to have a positive impact on the standard of services people with learning disabilities receive. I chose my course because I know I can truly make a positive difference to people’s lives. I want to promote choice, independence, dignity, respect and rights because these are all things that we come to expect, yet for people with learning disabilities this is not what they always receive, I enjoy being an advocate and am always willing to make a stand for the people I work in partnership with whether it is the service user, their carers or their family.’
I couldn’t believe it when those words enabled me to be successful alongside Joshua Kernohan, another great student LD nurse. I was excited and nervous about the first meeting, I would be meeting with extremely important professionals that have achieved more in regards to learning disability practice than I could ever have dreamed of. I was star struck, when I started my course I thought about the possibility of managing a supported living setting in 15 years’ time. I came back from the meeting knowing that it wasn’t my only option…there are many!
Strengthening the Commitment is an amazing policy in itself, revolving around modernising learning disability nursing. I know the importance of looking at historical perspectives, but now I feel it’s time to look forward, to make things better for people with learning disabilities than they have ever been before. The main points on the agenda at the meeting were:
- strengthening capacity;
- strengthening capability;
- strengthening quality; and
- strengthening the profession.
I remember reflecting on how great it was that each UK country was embracing the policy and how difficult it would be to implement strategic plans, however the group dynamic was amazing as each country was proud to pass on their achievements so far. I feel the momentum of this policy has been maintained because of likeminded professionals with a main overall goal to do the best for people with learning disabilities. Every person on the UK steering group has secured their place through leadership, research, academia, challenging inequalities and raising the awareness of the importance and impact of LD nurses.
After the meeting, I thought about my responsibility as a student, I considered how I would encourage my fellow students, lecturers, mentors and practitioners to gain a deep insight into Strengthening the Commitment and reflect on how they will embrace it. I really like the way this policy encourages LD practitioners from all sectors, positions and settings to get together and share their ideas and values with each other.
As a student I really am living the dream, I have been inspired to do more… and now I want to do everything! I want to be a leader, I want to do research, I want to show my outcomes, I want to share how proud I am of my profession and I want to do the best I can for each service user who lets me gain an insight into their life.
I feel that LD nursing is at a revolutionary stage, there are so many passionate leaders, practitioners, lecturers, researchers and students. It is time for everyone, no matter what profession, to unite and rally to improve things for the people we serve.
Amy Hodkin is in her 3rd year studying a BA Honours in Applied Nursing (Learning Disability) and Generic Social Work at Sheffield Hallam University