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Strengthening the Commitments – LD nursing in Scotland

April 1, 2013

Strengthening the Commitments

This blog is a reflection on the Modernising Learning Disability Nursing conference held last week (26th March) – it also a celebration of the recent promotion of Sam Abdulla and myself: I’ll explain that in a little more detail in a moment.

Political will

Michael Matheson, Minister for Health for Public Health gave the keynote speech.  He underlined that LD nurses are fundamental to making action plan work for people in Scotland, they need to take ownership of the actions and deliver real outcomes: no-one will do it for them, but others will do it with them.  ‘Others’ in this context include people with learning disability as they are experts in the support they need.

The Minister recognised and noted that preventative and anticipatory care are central roles of LD nurses, roles he recognised from his own previous clinical experience that LD Nurses currently deliver – his challenge was to continue to develop and expand these within and across the new integrated health and social care landscape that Scotland is heading into.

Of note was when the minister said he will be taking personal interest in the action plan being taken forward. As this is the second time he has attended and spoken at events related the the LD Nursing action plan, there’s a reason to believe he may indeed be taking a personal interest.

Experts by experience

Most importantly was the demonstration of clear involvement of people with lived experience in shaping the development agenda – evident in their co-chairing the event and in the role in the programme itself through the “Co-production” steering group.  Ann, lead spokesperson for the steering group stated “we think co-production is just jargon”, the implication being, without action it’s just words.

Everyone has to engage proactively to make it a reality – Ann guided (or should that be instructed) us that whenever co-production was mentioned we all had to make the imaginary quotation mark, in mid air, with the first two fingers.  This was a visual and active physical reminder to us all that “co-production” is only a reality when we act upon it and engage with it.

A more organic approach

In my career I have organised a number of conference, ranging from 50 delegates to 800.  I’m a ‘little’ controlling at these events (ok, that’s probably a massive understatement), I always have presentations preloaded, always have them tested and always have backed up.

On one slightly extended interlude, rather than the chair person filling in with a few general observations or witticisms Ann took the microphone and sang to the audience.  She was never going to win the Voice or the X-Factor (she was far to good for that) her song was heartfelt and just so real, something her dad had taught her many years before.  To me, it underlined that “co-production” meant ownership in all aspects, including filling in a gap in conference proceedings.  I’m glad they had to change the computers, I would have missed Ann’s song otherwise, and would have been the poorer for it.

I can’t promise I’ll be less controlling, but it’s made me reflect on the value of allowing a more organic approach to prevail.


Dr Colette Ferguson from NHS Education for Scotland the launched two important documents which underpin the Action Plan. These documents are the roadmap for education in LD nursing I’ve the next few years.

screen-capture-1The pre-registration framework lays out the knowledge and skills that are required from our undergraduates in order that they progress to registration. The document captures the vision and values of the Learning Disability Nurse, it is the Sat-Nav for future registrants, without which they will not reach their destination armed with the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes.

screen-capture-2The second document, the career and development framework, rather than being a roadmap, is more akin to an architects drawings.  Each aspect is interrelated and each linking together, building on what went before to create the whole building.  It is perhaps a little disappointing that more nurses (not just LD nurses) do not build their careers around the four pillars of practice:

  • Clinical practice
  • Education and teaching
  • Leadership
  • Research and development

These pillars, captured in POST REG DOC are the building blocks that have the potential to guide LD nurses from newly qualified nurses, through first first level clinical practice to advanced practice and on to nurse consultant roles.

A story of new beginnings

The final speaker at the event Professor Angela Wallace (chair of the national action group) reflected on the progress that is already evident in ‘A story of new beginnings’ – moving from foundations into delivering actions for change.  The beginning has ended, now each LD Nurse must take ownership of their own actions, they must deliver individually if they expect to deliver collectively.  The message was very clear, now is a perfect time to deliver change, innovation and quality wrapped around personcentredness.   There are too many stories of getting it wrong, it’s time to address that balance.  Angela’s observations included “LD Nurses can ‘teach’ others in the nursing family about personcentredness as it is the very essence of being an LD Nurse”.  Change and will require leadership and courage, to challenge each other for improvement, indeed to challenge ourselves to ensure personcentredness in every day services.

June Brown closed the morning reemphasising the message previous message that everyone must take ownership of their own actions and deliver individually, to deliver together.

My final thought on the event focuses on the use of Twitter.  From then outset the organisers encouraged delegates to tweet their thoughts, their observations, questions and commitments to action.  On each of the tables there was an upright card placed centrally to encourage delegates to tweet, to explain not just the #tag for the day, but also what a #tag is and how to follow the events tweets using the #tag.  Although it seems that the LD nurses at the event have been slow to pick up on Twitter, the ability to share information widely was clearly demonstrated – perhaps after this they will.

Additionally the twitter feed for the day has been #storified by @ldnursechat and can be accessed here

STCScot 1

Statistics for the event (on Twitter) can be accessed via the healthcare hash tag project, available on Symplur.  An overview of them are shown below.

I did promise to return to celebrate the joint promotion of Sam and I.  The title Heed’o’tweeting is not given out lightly, in fact we were delighted with our new responsibilities: screen-capture-3screen-capture-4

I hope you enjoy the execution of our duties captured in the Storify account above.


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