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The review of learning disability nursing undertaken in 2011-12 and subsequent report ‘Strengthening the Commitment’, has offered recommendations for modernising learning disability nursing roles and practice. In 2015, the UK Strengthening the Commitment Steering Group published their report celebrating the achievements towards realising these recommendations. They also outlined an ongoing agenda to further strengthen the role of and leadership amongst learning disability nurses, regulation and quality.

In line with Government policy and best professional practice, the delivery of learning disability services need to respond to the challenges across health and social care and change to meet the needs of a growing group of people using services. Learning disability nurses also need to identify where they can make their most telling contribution to care delivery across primary, secondary and tertiary settings. To enable this, it will also be necessary describe the educational and training interventions required to address education and development needs of the current workforce to support retention. However, this is also against a backdrop of serious concerns about the reduction in applicants for learning disability nursing graduate programmes, with one university in London unable to recruit undergraduates for the academic year commencing September 2017.

Whilst the outputs shared via the aforementioned ‘Living the Commitment’ report demonstrates progress in terms of the learning disability role and practice, there is arguably further scope for enabling the voice of learning disability nurses delivering front line services to come to the fore and influence the future. Understanding their perspective and experience regarding the future preparation, work and ongoing development of learning disability nurses would add value to existing activity by evidencing the important role learning disability nurses have across health and social care; not just for those people with a learning disability but across the population.

Purpose of the project

The aim of this project is to generate a new narrative about learning disability nursing so as this branch of the profession is recognised as an attractive career offering vital expertise and support to people across all care sectors.

This will be achieved by:

Gathering, analysing and sharing evidence of the impact of learning disability nurses and nursing across all care sectors.

  • Challenging the prevailing perceptions of learning disability nurses and nursing
  • Demonstrating the unique and important contribution learning disability nurses make with policy makers, educators, employers and those people using services.

Why FoNS

The Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) is a charitable organisation that has developed an excellent reputation at the forefront of nursing. It operates UK wide and across all health and social care settings and is dedicated to working with nurses and health and social care teams to develop and share innovative ways of improving practice

It has gained wide credibility nationally and in Europe, working with practitioners and policy makers at all levels and across a range of specialities. The organisation focuses on areas where its expertise can make the most useful contribution to the development of effective, evidence-based practice. In 2016-17, FoNS led a similar independent review of mental health nursing funded by the Department of Health and Health Education England. The report, Playing our Part: the work of graduate and mental health nurses was launched by Baroness Mary Watkins in March this year and outlined a number of step changes to strengthen the work, preparation and development of mental health nurses for the future.