RCN Wales latest paper is calling for more learning disability consultant nurses in Wales.
The life expectancy of a woman with a learning disability is 18 years shorter than a woman in the general population and for a man its 14 years shorter.
Many people with a learning disability also have long-term health needs: 46% of people experiencing seven or more long-term conditions. Approximately 98% of people with a learning disability have been prescribed medication, and the average number of medications a person with learning disabilities is prescribed is 6.2.
Helen Whyley RCN Wales Director said:
“Learning Disability Nurses work with some of the most vulnerable, complex, isolated individuals in our society. People with a Learning Disability often present to services with a range of physical, psychological and social difficulties which need specialist, skilled, compassionate healthcare. Failure to properly invest in learning disability nursing will further increase the health inequalities these individuals already experience.
"The role of learning disability nursing is crucial to ensure that people with a learning disability are provided with parity of esteem in all aspects of healthcare and to prevent avoidable deaths. The role of the learning disability nurse should be celebrated and valued for the compassionate highly skilled role it is.”
The importance of consultant nurses is shared by Jayne Nicholls, joint founder of the Paul Ridd Foundation says:
“We were promised 10 years ago that every health board would have a consultant learning disability nurse. There is still only one. We need nurses at consultant level to ensure improvements are made and areas of concern are addressed.”
Wayne Crocker, Mencap Cymru Director says:
“The role of the learning disability nurse needs to be enhanced, to support people to access mainstream health services. Mencap Cymru would welcome investment into the role of Learning Disability Liaison Nurses in Acute Hospital settings”.
Katherine Samuels, learning disability registered nurse says:
“Making a difference, however small, in someone's life makes the job worthwhile, taking the time to listen and try and work through the difficulties. Helping them find a voice or supporting them to do the things they want in life”.