Siân Lewis from Blackwood graduated in 2008 from the Learning Disabilities Nursing degree and went on to study the MSc Professional Practice (Learning Disabilities). She is now team manager within a child and adolescent learning disability service.
"During my undergraduate nurse training, the placements that resonated with me the most were the ones at a medium-secure facility and a community learning disability team.
I learnt a lot about how the private sector can provide healthcare to people with learning disabilities who may have a forensic history. This placement reinforced the importance of a non-judgemental and person-centred approach.
I was lucky in that I returned to the same community learning disability team throughout the three years of my training. I loved my placement with the team and I knew then that community nursing was what I wanted to do when I qualified.
In University, I found the practical sessions most useful. Amongst other things we learnt about counselling skills, clinical supervision and assessment skills. Although this involved some role-play, it was the best way to practice skills that I have gone on to use on a regular basis in practice.
When we branched off into our learning disability cohort, I found the sessions to be more tailored to what I was interested in learning about. The sessions were more informal and the group was a lot smaller. I felt much more confident to engage in these and felt encouraged to be part of discussions. This was helpful for me as I was very shy.
People are always surprised to hear that I am a nurse and I don’t work in a general hospital! I am based in an office and that the majority of our work is about supporting children and young people and their families around difficult/ challenging behaviour rather than physical health needs.
I love that my job affords me the opportunity to have a strategic view on the service that we offer and how it fits into the wider services of the health board, and also the opportunity to undertake clinical work.
The team I work with are very passionate about delivering a good service to children and young people with learning disabilities and I feel proud to be a learning disability nurse.
Nursing is a great profession as you can make a real difference to the people you support.
I believe that learning disability nurses are very skilled, holistic practitioners. What’s more, there is scope to develop yourself further as a nurse into a range of different roles within the private sector, NHS, and education sector."