My job

Daniel Marsden: treasuring extra curricular activities and staying patient

Practice development nurse Daniel Marsden explains his the guiding principles and why his role in providing care is person centred

What is your job?

As a practice developer I support our acute hospital staff to provide care that is person centered, adjusted, safe and effective.

Picture: Tim George

To do this, I am mindful of work-based cultures across our three acute hospital sites, and seek creative methods and projects to enlighten and empower. This includes co-creating tools, guidance and policy, leading on and fostering research and development, and ensuring standards are high.

Why did you become a nurse?

When I left school I had a mentor and family friend who was an occupational therapist, and who enabled me to get some work experience in a supported employment workshop. I subsequently worked as an activity support worker under occupational therapists.

However, 18 months later, I realised I spent more time working with nurses and they inspired me to make an application to be a learning disability nurse. I trained at University of Brighton and was based at Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Since undertaking a community nursing degree in 2001, I have been interested in health facilitation. I have explored the concept of facilitation in supporting and enabling mainstream health professionals to provide person-centred care.

Facilitation is a significant element of practice development that draws me into a variety of activities. These include reviewing case, leading learning disability champions meetings and writing collaborative research funding bids, as well as meeting with patients, carers and careworkers.

What is the greatest challenge?

Being patient. The NHS constantly offers opportunities to make improvements for people with learning disabilities. Making time to reflect and having critical companions are essential to ensure my work doesn’t recreate or reinforce inequalities.

What would you change if you could?

I am passionate about inclusion and my guiding principle is to work towards a society where learning disability nursing is not required. This would require a society based on equity and equality. Until that comes and is sustained, learning disability nursing and nurses play a vital role in the health and social care system.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I run, and am a treasurer for three disability teams in a local mainstream football club, Anchorians FC, based in the Medway Towns.

What inspires you?

I take inspiration from many different places. From working with groups of experts who regularly inspire me to working with learning disability champions who challenge me about how and why I practise in the way I do.

I recently had an excellent student who has refreshed my practice and there are networks of people who regularly inspire me, particularly those who contribute toward WeLDNurses and the Kent Surrey Sussex Learning Disability Community of Practice.

Personally, I like to have my perception challenged by creative people who span boundaries and articulate their inquiries, such as Brian Eno, Gilles Peterson, Adam Curtis, Max Richter and Grayson Perry.

Of what achievement are you most proud?

Most recently, the launch of the Kent Surrey Sussex Learning Disability Community of Practice was the most complete expression of my practice as was the humanity of the keynote speakers.

What makes a good nurse?

Caring and empathy are vital aspects, but require inspiration. A foundation in the culture, legal frameworks and policy is essential too. By fusing these qualities, nurses can enable and support people to navigate systems.

What advice would you like to pass on to students and junior staff?

Explore and inquire into your practice, and take a broad view and a wide range of opinions. Be political and develop your awareness, identify your mentors and critical companions, and listen out for every communication.


Daniel Marsden is a practice development nurse for people with learning disabilities at east Kent Hospitals Universities NHS Foundation Trust

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