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Career profile: Learning disability nurse

Career profile: Learning disability nurseGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Learning disability nurses work with people with learning disabilities to help them become as independent as possible.

On the job

People with a learning disability can struggle to cope with aspects of everyday, independent living. So, they need help to develop ways to get the most out of life.

Learning disability nurses may have a range of duties, depending on the needs of their patients. One day they might help someone work on their manual and recognition skills so they can make themselves a cup of tea, the next they may help a patient relate to his or her relatives more effectively.

The distinctive contribution of learning disability nurses is their focus on behaviours and lifestyles in order to promote health and well-being for individuals, and their families and carers. You will be working in a wide variety of settings: people's own homes, their family homes, residential care, schools, workplaces and leisure centres. As your career unfolds you can maintain this broad spread of activity, or you could choose to specialise in an area such as sensory disability, education, or management of learning disability services.

The main challenge is to remain constantly sensitive and alert in how you relate to people, helped by new technology tools such as sensory stimulation and interactive learning systems. Progress can be slow, but seemingly small things do mean a great deal. You are increasing their self-confidence and sense of worth, and enabling them to share more fully in the challenges and pleasures of living.

Course entry requirements

To work in the NHS, nurses must hold a degree in nursing, which leads to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), enabling them to practice as a nurse.

Entry requirements vary depending on the course and the institution, so check before applying. You will usually need around five GCSEs plus two A-levels (or Highers) for a degree programme.

What does the training involve?

Degree courses last three or four years, and lead to a BSc in Nursing.

All nursing degrees consist of common foundation programmes (CFP) usually for one year on full-time courses, before specialisation in the next two or three years of the course.

Part-time courses are provided by some universities and normally last for five or six years. They are available to staff working in the NHS – usually as an assistant or an associate practitioner with qualifications up to NVQ level 3 (or equivalent).

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)