Specialist role to support patients with learning disabilities

Extra support for patients with learning disabilities is on the way in the form of two new specialist nurses at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG).

Kay Dickinson and Emma Watts
Kay Dickinson and Emma Watts

Going to hospital can be a frightening time for anyone but even more so for a patient with learning disabilities.

Two new acute learning disability (LD) nurses have been appointed to help make going to hospital a positive experience for patients in Grimsby and Scunthorpe.

Kay Dickinson has been working as an LD nurse since 1982 and is employed by the Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust in their community LD team. She will be based at Scunthorpe General Hospital three days a week to bridge the gap between community and hospital care.

Emma Watts is employed by NLaG and is based at Grimsby hospital on a full-time basis but will also cover Goole hospital. She qualified in 2011 and began her career working in a nursing home with adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Kay said: “As well as supporting patients and carers we’ll be here to support staff to achieve a positive experience for their patients.”

From helping patients prepare for their hospital visit, to helping staff make reasonable adjustments for their patients, liaising with other professionals and helping staff to communicate effectively with adults with learning disabilities; Kay and Emma are here to ensure patients with learning disabilities have a positive experience of hospital.

The duo will follow patients from admission to their inpatient stay right through to their outpatient appointment.

Kay said: “Our role is about making it a seamless journey for patients and ensuring a safe discharge back into community services.

“Staff can help us by making reasonable adjustments for their LD patients such as providing a quiet area for them to wait for their treatment or giving them an early slot on a theatre list so they don’t have a long wait. All these things can help put patients at ease and improve their experience.”

Emma added: “I love my role because you know you are making a difference to families and wards, the job overall is really rewarding.”

The pair will also look at working with other professionals to arrange multiple treatments for patients at once so they don’t have to keep going back to the hospital for treatment. Kay has already had success with this in the community dental service where she’s worked with the service lead to arrange for other treatments to be carried out while the patient is sedated; such as foot care.