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RCN Scotland Nurse of the Year Awards 2022

Learning Disability Nursing Award

RCN Scotland Nurse of the Year Awards

Learning disability nurses help people of all ages with learning disabilities to maintain their health and wellbeing and to live their lives as fully and independently as possible.


About the award

Open to registered nurses working in learning disability services. This award aims to recognise those who have succeeded in raising standards of care for their patients and clients and have made an outstanding contribution to the care of service users.


Who can be nominated?

A registered learning disability nurse working in a clinical role or managing clinical services within learning disability services across Scotland. 


RCN Scotland Nurse of the Year Awards 2024

Our finalists for this award were:



Laura McCann

Community Learning Disability Senior Charge Nurse, Falkirk Learning Disability Team, NHS Forth Valley

Described by her team, in the nicest possible way, as infectious. As soon as Laura joined the Falkirk LD Integrated team she knew this was where she was meant to be. Laura’s nomination centres around a work programme she leads to support people with a learning disability to develop healthy relationships – an ability she says her patients have often been denied. With a strong and confident team behind her, she set about understanding individual needs to tailor the service and ensure it is adaptable to individual needs. She developed an eight-week programme on cyber safety and is currently working with her team and the wider multi-disciplinary team to develop support for those who experience gender based violence – working to embed trauma informed practice and improve the support offered by staff. One of Laura’s key achievements is ensuring that the team can now provide a consistent and equitable service across her locality, which she has achieved by sharing learning, upskilling colleagues and creating avenues for patients to be educated. Laura has ensured all the team’s work is rooted in strong evidence, working with sexual health nursing, local organisations who support gender based violence sufferers, and NHS Scotland to produce guidance for practitioners. Laura is keen to promote LD nursing and is working with universities to support practice placements. Her goal is to eventually go into high schools to promote LD nursing, and nursing in general, as a career choice.

Laura McCann

Runner Up

Learning Disability Intensive Support Service

Murray Royal Hospital, NHS Tayside

Described by their colleagues as a team who exemplify learning disability nursing. The LDISS Team developed a high-quality therapeutic monitoring system for people with a learning disability which has ultimately led to improved health outcomes of people with a learning disability in Perth and Kinross. With life expectancy for people with a learning disability shorter than the general population, the team strive to reduce avoidable morbidity by identifying additional health needs and ultimately reducing health inequalities. Cheryl Gray and her team of learning disability nurses focus on intensive support and extol the virtues of understanding that any care is the patient’s choice, and all care is person-centred. Despite service reduction challenges, the team developed processes to expand nurse led clinics with a more holistic approach to understanding individual’s health needs. Feedback from patients and their families evidences the team’s impact with an improved understanding of the important specialist skills of learning disability nurses and how they differ to other nursing disciplines. The team recognises are determined to raise the profile of learning disability nursing, driving change in learning disability health care, and making a difference to the individuals they support.

Learning Disability Intensive Support Service

Highly Commended

Alan Lawson and Jacqueline Cowan

Learning Disability Liaison Nurse (Job Share), Borders General Hospital, NHS Borders

Described by their colleagues as two nurses who exemplify person centred care, ensuring the voice of their patients is always at the heart of health and care decisions. Based at Borders General Hospital, Alan and Jacqueline (Jake) aim to enable and support everyone with a learning disability who enters the hospital. They have developed innovative and considered ways of sharing information with patients and staff to build relationships and trust. Alan and Jake work with a multi-disciplinary team to break down barriers throughout the care journey from pre-assessment to after care, engaging with social work teams, amongst others, to ensure everyone understands the individual’s needs and finding a collective way to manage the care. Working within the hospital, they have trained a link nurse in almost every ward to identify patients who would benefit from their support. Alan and Jake’s persistence and enthusiasm for supporting people with a learning disability is evident in their innovative use of digital information sharing, a new anaesthetic pathway for people with a LD, and how they have maximising what is covered in one appointment to minimise distress and reduce waiting times. Their collective goal is to raise the profile of LD nursing and reduce the health inequalities their patients face.

Alan Lawson and Jacqueline Cowan

Nominations have now closed and, following the judging process, our finalists have been chosen by our panels.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the awards, please get in touch by emailing

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Page last updated - 21/11/2023