Learning Disability Nursing Day | From social media to social inclusion

LD nurses

Rhiannon Richardson and Emma Hughes

Two student nurses, who met on social media and bonded over their passion for learning disability nursing, became good friends who would go on to support each other through their careers.

Emma Hughes, from Blackwood, was struggling to find information online about learning disability nursing. Having already secured her place on the BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities) course at University of South Wales (USW), she wanted to see some real-life experiences of students who had gone before her.

“This field of healthcare is relatively small compared to, say, adult nursing. I was looking for people to connect with who shared my aspirations. I searched #learningdisabilitynursing on Instagram and landed on Rhiannon’s account.

“I could see that we had a lot in common, including both studying at USW, so I sent her a message asking some questions about the course and learning disability nursing in general. She was so lovely and helpful,” she said.

Rhiannon Richardson, from Pembroke, was more than happy to answer Emma’s questions and encourage someone else into the same line of work. She said: “I thought Emma reaching out was brilliant. I was happy to help and will always encourage anyone who wants to work in this area of healthcare.”

It was a generous gesture from Rhiannon that cemented their friendship. Emma said: “Rhiannon asked me to meet for coffee. She was just as lovely in person and, when we met up, she gave me her textbooks, which was just so kind. Even though she has completed the course, and moved away, we keep in touch. I am excited to watch how her career pans out.”

Though both students are equally passionate about the subject, they decided to follow this particular career path for different reasons. Emma has a teenage son with learning disabilities. She said: “I have had amazing support over the years. I thought to myself, I want to be part of that inspirational army of people who want to give back.”

Rhiannon admits that her journey was more random. She said: “I used to work with horses, including teaching horse-riding with disabled people. I fell out of love with working on yards, but I knew I wanted to carry on in a support role. I got a job working with adults with autism, learning difficulties, and challenging behaviours.

“I hadn’t actually heard of learning disability nursing until I bumped into a community learning disability nurse and we got chatting. It was a ‘lightbulb moment’ for me. In space of only a month, I had applied, interviewed, and moved to Pontypridd to start lectures. Three years later, I have a job in a newly-formed ‘Early Intervention Team’ in a community in West Wales.”

She added: “I would be more than happy to speak to anyone who wants to be a learning disability nurse and has questions. It is such a rewarding job giving people time, helping them to thrive, and working with them to reach milestones that perhaps they hadn’t been able to weeks or months before.”

Stacey Rees, Course Leader, said: "Promoting the work of learning disability nursing is vital to the profession and that is why we are marking Learning Disability Nursing Day. #

“I'm delighted that Emma and Rhiannon, not only connected on social media, but also that they are also both so passionate about spreading the word of their rewarding career choice.”


For more information on studying learning disability nursing at USW: BSc (Hons) Nursing (Learning Disabilities) | University of South Wales