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Let's hear it for the RNLDs

Sanctuary recruitment consultant Luke Aldred is delighted that learning disability nurses are getting the recognition they deserve.

As someone whose day-to-day work involves recruitment for learning disability nurses, I'm constantly impressed by their dedication and inspired by the amazing things they achieve with some of the most vulnerable members of society. So it's great to see that the value of this often overlooked branch of the nursing profession is being recognised, not just amongst families, carers, charities and health professionals, but in the corridors of power too.

Scotland's Chief Nursing Officer, Fiona McQueen, recently praised the work of learning disabilities nurses and reaffirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to the profession. This came as she and her three counterparts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland launched the Strengthening the Commitment: Living the Commitment report. This follows up on an extensive 2012 review which set out a range of challenges for learning disability nursing, based on principles and values that are important to clients, their families and carers.

If you're in any doubt about the importance of learning disabilities nursing roles, just take a look at the statistics. According to the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, there are around 1.5 million people in the UK who have a learning disability, including around 286,000 children. What's more, mainly because they're living longer, the number of adults with learning disabilities is set to increase. The Learning Disabilities Observatory predicts that the number of over 70s using learning disabilities social care services will more than double by 2030.

The story so far

Since the original Strengthening the Commitment review was published, much has been done to deliver an improved service for people with learning disabilities. More opportunities have been created for learning disability nurses to enhance their knowledge and skills, including leadership workshops and networking initiatives. For example, the UK Learning Disability Academic Network and UK Learning Disability Nurse Consultant Network are helping provide evidence-based work models and promoting ideas sharing. And the Independent Sector Collaborative supports the many learning disability nurses who work in the independent and voluntary sectors.

Supporting the profession’s future

The Strengthening the Commitment Steering Group clearly recognises that, while much has been achieved over the last few years, there's still a lot to be done to strengthen the learning disability nursing profession, particularly in the context of the government's planned integration of health and social care. However, with continued support, the future looks good. And there is no denying the difference that skilled and committed professionals are making to this important area of nursing. 
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