15 June 2020

Learning disabilities student nurse shares passion for role

"I love working with people with learning disabilities. The connection you make and it's meaning to the people you are connected with can't be rivalled. It's this very connection that can take you along some wonderful journeys with the people you support and their families. You can literally be a part of someone blossoming into the person they can be."

Those are the thoughts of Learning Disability Student Nurse, Rachel Trollope, who works for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust. She is sharing her journey into learning disability nursing during Learning Disabilities Week (Monday 15th - Sunday 21st June).

After 20 years of working in health and social care and education, Rachel decided it was time for a change. She questioned the real, human value of her actions on a day-to-day basis and says she felt what she was doing didn't make enough of a difference to really matter on an individual level. This is what led her to rethink her career and she decided to retrain as a Learning Disabilities Nurse.

Rachel said: "My first job at 16 was working as a Care Support Worker for adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities, people I knew from my childhood who had lived at the long-stay hospital where my mum worked as a Learning Disabilities Nurse, until its closure. That job was all about the human touch and deeper connection gained from really understanding a person. In 20 years of working I'd never found another job to rival this feeling, up until now. 

"Nothing focuses your attention on an issue like having a loved one affected by it. My nephew, who sadly passed away at just six years old was born deaf and blind with Cerebral Palsy. To me, he was the most beautiful person in the world and I wouldn't have changed a single second of his life. He gave so much joy and love to us. But with a lack of skilled and trained professionals, it wasn't always easy and there weren't always rainbows and fluffy clouds."

Rachel, who works at the Trust's bespoke care unit for people with complex learning disabilities at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes, Wiltshire, is encouraging more people to consider a career as a learning disabilities nurse.

She said: "There are so many stereotypes and misconceptions about people with learning disabilities. The only way to make a change is to be the change that you want to see and become its champion. If you're someone that wants to make a real difference to society, or to the lives of people with learning disabilities then what better way to do it than this? If you're that person with genuine empathy, the drive to make positive, lasting changes and the passion to help people with learning disabilities find their voice and to be heard, then Learning Disability Nursing fits the shape of that space, and it needs you."

Julie Kerry, Director of Nursing at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, said: "A career in learning disability nursing can be hugely rewarding. Our learning disability nurses work with real passion and dedication to enrich the lives of our learning disabilities patients and enable them to reach their full potential to lead active, independent and healthy lives. I'd encourage anyone who might be considering learning disability nursing as a career to find out more and start their journey into this hugely satisfying and fulfilling role."

To find out more about a career in Learning Disability Nursing visit https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/roles-nursing/learning-disability-nurse


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