27 Nov 2023
Group of people in front of a large screen at conference

A conference held at the University of Winchester to highlight the work of an often overlooked and under-appreciated area of nursing has been pronounced a major success.

It’s now likely that the conference – Celebrating Learning Disability Nursing in Health and Justice – will become an annual event after receiving excellent and enthusiastic feedback.

Learning Disability Nurses (LDNs) provide take care of the social, psychological and physical health needs of people with a learning disability who are often marginalised by society.

Often the people LDNs care for have become caught up in the criminal justice system which they find confusing and in which they can encounter police officers, prison staff, social workers and other people in the criminal justice arena who are not fully trained to deal with their needs.

In addition to hearing from a number LDNs working in the justice system, the conference also heard about examples of innovative practice and the latest news in career development.

The event was organised by Jo Welch a Senior Lecturer in the Department Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Winchester along with the RCN professional leads Liz Walsh, Jonathan Beebee and Vicky Sandy-Davis

At the end of a panel discussion, which closed the event, Jo, who is also the chair of the Learning and Intellectual Disability Nursing Academic Network, told the gathering: “I would like to celebrate what you are all doing. We have to do that if the profile of LDNs is going to be front and centre.”

Jonathan Beebee, the Royal College of Nursing’s Professional Lead Learning Disability Nursing, said:” There are many misconceptions, or no conceptions, of the amazing work that learning disability nurses work in health and justice settings do. This event was an incredibly positive step to changing that.

“We heard from learning disability nurses working in secure hospitals, prisons, courts, and many other justice related settings. This has been the start of celebrating these roles and elevating their voices.

In addition to LDNs, the conference, held in The Stripe Auditorium on October 24, was attended by people working in education and the prison service as well as students from the University.

Pictured: Standing from left: Paula Hull - Director of Nursing & Allied Health Professionals at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust; Katie Pritchard Thomas - Deputy Chief Nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Jo Welch - Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Winchester and chair of the Learning and Intellectual Disability Nursing Academic Network. Seated: Jonathan Beebee - CEO at PBS4 and Professional Lead in Learning Disabilities at Royal College of Nursing and Juliet Borwell - Quality Lead for Practice Learning HEE.

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