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Learning Disability Nursing

"The reason people become learning disabilities nurses are varied but one thing is universal, they make a vital contribution to the care and welfare of vulnerable peopleā€. (Public Health Nursing Division, 2014, Strengthening the commitment: one year on).

Last updated: 08/06/2022

Key Resources

Adults with incapacity: forms and guidance (Scottish government)
Doukas T, Fergusson A, Fullerton M and Grace J (2017) Supporting people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Core and essential service standards. PMLD Link.
The Learning Disabilities Review Programme (LeDeR) (2020) Annual report. Bristol: LeDeR
Lenehan C (2017) These are our children: a review by Dame Christine Lenehan. Director. Council for Disabled Children. London: Council for Disabled Children.
Mental capacity act (Northern Ireland) 2016.
NHS England (2017) Stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both (STOMP).
Reasonable adjustments for people with a learning disability (2018) GOV.UK.
Royal College of Nursing - Clinical topics in learning disabilities.
Royal College of Nursing (2021) Connecting for change: for the future of learning disability nursing. London: RCN
Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (2021) Eating and drinking with acknowledged risks: multidisciplinary team guidance for the shared decision-making process (adults).
  • Eating and drinking with acknowledged risks refers to the decision to continue eating and drinking despite the associated risks from having dysphagia. These risks may refer to aspiration, malnutrition, dehydration and choking. This publication is endorsed by the RCN.
    View page
Skills for Health (2019) Capabilities frameworks. Supporting autistic people and/or people with a learning disability.
Taggart L, Tripp H, Conder J, Whitehead L, Scott J, Rouse L, Redquest B, Lunsky Y and Truesdale M. (2021) International consensus guidelines: reasonable adjustments in the management of type 2 diabetes in adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD): Health Special Interest Research Group.


National Autistic Society, Amazing Things Happen by Alexander Amelines. 
We would like to thank the RCN Learning Disability Nursing member community for their input into the development of this subject guide.


Book cover Baker P and Osgood T (2019) Understanding and responding to behaviour that challenges in intellectual disabilities: a handbook for those that provide support. 2nd edn. Shoreham by Sea: Pavilion Publishing.
Alt Barber C (2022) Learning disabilities: a non-specialist introduction for nursing, health and social care. Banbury: Lantern Publishing.
Book Cover Barr O (2019) Oxford handbook of learning and intellectual disability nursing. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Book Cover Bates C (2018) Sexuality and learning disabilities: practical approaches to providing positive support. Hove: Pavilion Publishing.
Book Cover Cronin P, Hardy S, Roberts M, Burke C, Mahon D and Chaplin E (eds.) (2020) Peter and friends talk about COVID-19 and having a learning disability and/or autism. London: Penge Publishers
Book cover Frankish P (2019) Trauma-informed care in intellectual disability: a self-study guide for health and social care support staff. Shoreham by Sea: Pavilion Publishing.
Book Cover Hardy S (2016) Supporting the physical health needs of people with learning disabilities: a handbook for professionals, support staff and families. Hove: Pavilion.
Book Cover Hemmings C (2018) Mental health in intellectual disabilities: a complete introduction to assessment, intervention, care and support. 5th edn. Hove: Pavilion Publishing.
Book Cover Heslop P and Hebron C (2020) Promoting the health and well-being of people with learning disabilities. Cham: Springer.
Book cover Humphrey S (editor) (2021) Learning disability placements: a pocket guide. Banbury: Lantern
Book Cover Jones V (2019) Working with people with learning disabilities: systemic approaches. London: Red Globe Press.
Book Cover Moulster G, Iorizzo J, Ames S, and Kernohan J (eds.) (2019) The Moulster and Griffiths nursing model: a framework for learning disability nursing practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Book Cover Storey K and Post M (2019) Positive behavior supports for adults with disabilities in employment, community, and residential settings: practical strategies that work. 2nd edn. Springfield: Charles C Thomas.

Book subject searches

Nursing History Collection

Book Cover Dale P (2006) Mental illness and learning disability since 1850: finding a place for mental disorder in the United Kingdom. London: Routledge.
Jukes M (2009) Learning disability nursing practice: origins, perspectives and practice. London: Quay.

Special collections

Our Permanent Collection consists of nursing specific core items and rare items. It is viewable by appointment at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre. Here is a small selection of items from our collection.
Gibson F (1958) Mental deficiency nursing. London: Faber and Faber.
Hallas C H (1978) The care and training of the mentally handicapped: a manual for the caring professions. Bristol: John Wright.
Royal Medico-Psychological Association (1931) Manual for mental deficiency nurses. London: Bailliere, Tindall and Cox.


The RCN Archive contains some of the most important collections dedicated to the history of the nursing profession in the UK. Visitors by appointment in Edinburgh.

This subject guide relates to:

RCN library staff

Lee Kattenhorn

Editor of this guide

RCN Library and Archive Service

Upcoming events relating to this subject guide

  • 06 Jul 2022 Online

    A History of Learning Disability and Human Rights

    Find out why we need to understand the history of learning disability to ensure better support for people with learning disabilities today.  

  • 20 Jul 2022 London

    Corali dance workshop

    Express yourself with this fun, empowering dance workshop aimed at adults with a learning disability.

  • 04 Aug 2022 London

    SOPHIE: The Play

    Join us for a performance of the play SOPHIE by Emily Curtis and Sophie Potter, exploring family life, stigma and Down syndrome.

  • 07 Sep 2022 Online

    Downs: A History

    Find out about the medical and social history of Down Syndrome in an online talk by Professor David Wright.

  • 13 Oct 2022 London

    Hello, my name is... A Conversation with Learning Disability Nurses

    Join us in person or online to hear about the lives and personal experiences of learning disability nurses.

Page last updated - 08/06/2022