Learning disability nurse: job description

Learning disability nurse: job description

Learning disability nurses provide care and support to adults and children with learning difficulties to help them live as independently as possible.
Learning disability nurses need excellent communication and interpersonal skills as well as patience and resilience.

What does a learning disability nurse do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Learning disability nurses work to ensure that the needs of adults and children with learning difficulties are met. Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • assessing and planning care requirements
  • advising about and organising appropriate care, resources or benefits
  • writing care plans that outline timescales
  • assisting with basic, practical living skills, such as getting dressed, preparing food and travelling
  • liaising with relatives, colleagues and other social welfare or healthcare professionals
  • monitoring and administering medication and injections
  • providing support to relatives
  • writing records and reports
  • meeting clients at home or at clinics to discuss progress
  • organising social activities and holidays for clients in residential care
  • helping to enable clients to have full and independent lives

Typical employers of learning disability nurses

  • The NHS
  • Residential homes
  • Social services
  • Charities
  • Specialist schools
  • Day centres

Vacancies are advertised online, in newspapers, on NHS jobs lists and in publications such as Nursing Times and Nursing Standard, as well as their respective websites.

Qualifications and training required

To become a learning disability nurse you must have a nursing degree.

Nursing degrees normally last three years, split between university study and supervised nursing practice, and a specialism in learning difficulties is available. Graduates with a degree in a relevant subject such as medical, biological or social sciences can qualify via a shortened two-year postgraduate diploma course, depending on the university. Nurses must then register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to practise. Nurse First, a pilot two-year fast-track programme for graduates who want to enter nursing, has recently been launched by NHS England, and combines hands-on experience and training with an educational course. The scheme's initial focus is training mental health and learning disability nurses.

Any experience of caring for or working with people (eg in a care home or hospice) can be helpful.

Key skills for learning disability nurses

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Care, compassion and empathy with patients
  • Teamworking skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Resilience, stamina and patience