Senior learning disability nurse Jacquelyn Foggin talks about her role with the Community Learning Disability Team in North Tyneside.
I am part of a team of nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, a psychiatrist and admin staff. We provide support for complex physical health needs, communication, mental health and health and wellbeing.
I love being a learning disability nurse because I feel that I can really make a difference in people’s lives.
I specialise in working with children and adults who have both a learning disability and Autism, providing assessment, interventions, strategies and support for a range of issues including behavioural difficulties, toileting, sleep and communication, as well as promoting a better understanding of autism.
Learning disability nursing is quite different to other branches of nursing. It is about enabling each person to reach their full potential, using positive behavioural support as the foundation of our practice.
It is highly rewarding and positive work; some days can be quite challenging but this makes the role very interesting.
As part of the CLDT Neurodevelopmental Pathway for ASD/ADHD I work with the children and young people and their parents or carers, carrying out detailed diagnostic assessments, confirming diagnoses and providing follow-up support.
To understand how someone thinks and how they view the world, I try to get into that person’s shoes and really understand what matters to them, for instance how something seemingly quite small could ruin their day.
We work with children from the age of four upwards which can involve some very inventive thinking. The team are very skilled at ‘thinking out of the box’ to organise or make something which helps the child to understand what we are asking of them or what is going to happen.
Each day is totally different, I love working with parents and families to help them understand the behaviours of their children, and help them to implement strategies that can support them across all settings.
I work closely with local schools, social care and short break providers, deliver parent training programmes with other professionals, provide ongoing professional development for colleagues and social care staff, and bespoke training for parents and the organisations who provides service for the children and adults who access our service.
I am also the link educator for nursing students from Northumbria and Teesside Universities to access learning placements with our team. I have been privileged to see many of these students return to the team as qualified nurses and go on to share their knowledge and experience with other students.
Since the start of the pandemic the team has found creative solutions to enable us to maintain services for the people who need us most.
With the benefit of technology, we are now able to carry out assessments and interview patients/parents using digital platforms, therapeutic work has been successful over the digital platform and school observations using a live feed.
And with social distancing and personal protective equipment, we are still able to offer essential face-to-face appointments.