Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Its been an interesting few months since my research leave. spent most of the summer very busy at work and little time for writing and then September was mainly spent preparing daughter for a move Wales for her post graduate degree whilst joking that 'you'll be finsihed that before I finish my PhD' ! After a break for a wedding and holiday I am  back into writing regularly again and my thoughts and writing has turned to the literature review and a rewrite of that.  My initial attempt sometime ago now seems descriptive and lacking in critical analysis but having started the re write I don't seem to be getting very far. Supervision is coming up soon and I need to discuss the thematic approach to my literature review. The main area being around my general themes. So continuing to write for now as I need to keep up and not lose momentum up and hopefully will blogs again after supervision. 

7 weeks of research leave. April/May 12

Early April through May saw 7 weeks of analysis and writing of findings chapters.  Findings for this study have been arranged into three main theme areas around becoming a nurse, on being and on making a difference. The method used to analyse meant the development of initial themes then case studies then a more detailed analysis of the themes. The findings of course will be shared when the full thesis is written.
A key challenge throughout 7 weeks of leave was maintaining motivation and ignoring distractions. The library has always been a difficult place for me to study as the noise levels are distracting but also I am the type of 'study bod' who, likes to spread out their work and not keep putting it away. a further challenge for me is being at home as years of being a mum and wife or partner has conditioned me to 'look for' jobs. And to be honest when the procrastination fairy arrives even the ironing looks appealing. So the answer came in a spare bedroom being converted to a study in my parents house so the day became more like a working day without the distractions. It's a luxury to have 7 weeks of full time work on the study as a part time student so I wanted to be sure I made the most of it.  After 7 weeks I had three draft chapters of the findings and a good grip on what needed to be achieved next.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The identity of the learning disability nurse

The identity of the learning disability nurse is intertwined with the past, the present and the future. Identity appears to be formed way before the individual begins their training when they first consider learning disability nursing – what it means to them and how they construct learning disability. Society and the ‘family’ of nursing also play their part in creating an identity. During the early days of the NHS when many newly named nurses were working in Victorian institutions the nurses identity had been linked to keeping people safe and secure and away from society. Maybe more in common with those who worked in prison settings?

As the NHS developed and grew the learning disability nurse in the NHS setting worked within a medical model of disability, a career structure within nursing was clear and specific ‘skills’ could be identified. Maybe a clear identity as a nurse?

Although learning disability nurses at this time may have been clear about their role and identity the ‘family’ of nursing was less and less sure of the position of learning disability. In the 1960’s and 70’s as philosophies of normalisation were accepted and damning reports into conditions in some institutions hit the headlines the questioning of the medical model threatened the identity of the learning disability nurse. The Jay report was key to this questioning process. Stepping forward a couple of decades and the embedding of the Community Care Act many people with learning disabilities had left the institutions and the medical model behind them to live ‘normalised’ lives. Learning disability nurses followed them, adapting their skills and learning new skills to support people with learning disabilities in different settings outside of the NHS.

In the gap between Jay and Valuing People learning disability nurses created new roles in order to continue to support people with learning disabilities; the Community Nurse (LD), specialist nurses (epilepsy is one example), nurse behaviourists, crisis intervention nurses, outreach and the acute liaison nurse. Many of these roles required nurse to think differently about their work and their perception of people with a learning disability. To create a new identity?

If learning disability is socially constructed then so too are the nurses who work with people with a learning disability and learning disability nurses over the past 30 years have been part of a changing identity and it hasn’t always been clear even to ourselves whether this identity is that of a ‘nurse’.