Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Team of the Year Award

Primary Learning Disability Liaison Nurse Team

Has been shortlisted for this award

Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk 

The nomination said...

The team came into existence just over three years ago as a pilot after a need was identified for people with a learning disability to be better supported to access primary healthcare in a proactive and meaningful way. There are four Learning Disability nurses within the team with over 100 years collective experience. They work in collaboration with all the GP practices across the whole of Suffolk. Effective teamwork was essential to ensure the pilot was not only implemented, but the service was meaningful for the person with a learning disability. The success of the pilot and creation of a new learning disability service when no other was in operation within Suffolk was down to a passionate team of nurses who had the creativity, drive to do what they love and aspiration for a better health service for people with a learning disability. Subsequently these roles were made into permanent positions to continue all the good work within the community. Working alongside health and social care professionals is an ongoing part of the role and without their effective communication and knowledge this would not be possible.

As a team, on a regular basis the learning disability liaison nurses work directly with family members and carers who support a person with learning disability, working towards overcoming any barriers that may be stopping a person having an annual health check with the GP, alongside this working within GP surgeries with health and admin staff to ensure there is a greater understanding of the needs of a person with a learning disability and supporting them to deliver a gold standard service to the patients through this advice and support.

The team members have worked directly with people who have a learning disability, listening to their fears and anxieties about attending a smear or a blood test, offering them and their carers realistic, tailor-made small step options to attend, such as sitting on the couch to discuss with the nurse what will happen if they attend the appointment.

The team has celebrated many successes such as: ensuring a person with a learning disability does not have to sit in a GP surgery waiting room when this would be too distressing for them, ensuring through liaison with the GP this person could wait outside and walk into the consultation room immediately; tracing a gentleman in the community as he was never home to discuss the importance of an annual health checks and what that could mean to that person if they talked about some ongoing ailments with their GP.

The core values of NFST underpin everything the team does:

Positively – being proactive, taking pride, responsibility, supporting people to set and achieve goals, recognising people.

We work within GP surgeries offering advice and support to assist them with the care of the people within their practice who have learning disabilities. This can be through guidance and training for fellow health professionals, as well as supporting people with learning disabilities to access the services they need.

Respectfully – Valuing everyone, stepping into other’s shoes, taking time to care, being professional, being effective.

As Learning Disability nurses, the team is used to being empathetic and offering support for reasonable adjustments, so they can access health services within the community, focusing on the person rather than the diagnosis.

Together – Involving people, sharing knowledge, keeping people updated, two-way conversations, seeking and giving feedback.

Each team member works collaboratively with a range of health and social care professionals, including GPs, dentists, and mental health services. The team is classed as specialist, lending knowledge and expertise to ensure that a fair and equitable service is available to people with learning disabilities

The team takes pride in speaking up for the people and the services they support, in a person-centred way, using open and honest language and communication.

As a new member of the team in 2018, I have personally felt very supported by the existing team members. They have gone out of their way to guide me, show the service and provide ad-hoc peer supervision where required. We are a small team spread across Suffolk, but they are always there on the end of the phone or willing to meet up where required.

We meet formally monthly to discuss our caseload, our successes and overcome any barriers we encounter. This is something that the team has instigated themselves, which is supportive. It is a wonderful experience to be part of such a great, proactive and caring team.