Sustaining the Commitment
In 2011, the UK chief nursing officers initiated a review of learning disability nursing to ensure a focus and direction for registered learning disability nurses (RNLDs) and to highlight their longstanding commitment to this essential field of the nursing family. This resulted in the publication in 2012 of Strengthening the Commitment which set out a clear agenda to meet the challenge of making sure that people with learning disabilities across the United Kingdom had high quality support from RNLDs.
Throughout the review the four UK countries joined by the Republic of Ireland in the implementation phase worked closely with people with a learning disability, their families and carers, nurses and others to meet the challenge of making sure that people with a learning disability had the support that they deserved, needed and were entitled to in modern health and social care services.
Each country agreed to lead specific workstreams and meet regularly to oversee a programme of work. Much has been achieved throughout the programme including the sharing of good practice, nurturing of future leaders, structural changes in terms of networks, as well as products that have come out of the programme. Many of these are highlighted in Living the Commitment published in 2015 and include:
The development and strengthening of networks
The UK Learning and Intellectual Disabilities Nursing Academic Network (LIDNAN) was set up as an outcome of the work programme. The Network continues to flourish bringing together academics and practitioners from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland to support a robust academic and research base.
More RNLDs than ever before are using social media and communities of practice to share practice and experience, learning and supporting each other.
The UK Learning Disability Consultant Nurse Network continues to provide a focus for innovation and development across the UK countries. The Health Equalities Framework (HEF), an outcome measure was developed by members of the Network and is being used across the UK.
In Wales, following concerns about safety of care of people with a learning disability accessing acute care, a hospital care bundle was developed with the family of a deceased patient. The care bundle received greater attention due to the Strengthening the Commitment programme and has led to improvements in care and a greater understanding by general hospital staff. The family has gone on to establish the Paul Ridd Foundation that supports awareness training for champions in health care settings.