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Nurses need more exposure to children with learning disabilities

Nurses interviewed about caring for children with learning disabilities in acute settings stressed the need to be adaptable and flexible

Nurses interviewed about caring for children with learning disabilities in acute settings stressed the need to be adaptable and flexible

Picture shows a woman and a boy sitting on a hospital bed, reading a book together. Nurses interviewed about caring for children with learning disabilities in acute settings stressed the need to be adaptable and flexible
Picture: iStock

Emulating the development of learning disability liaison nurse roles used in the UK is one of the suggestions of an Australian study looking at improving care.

The researchers also stress the need during professional training for greater exposure to caring for children and young people with learning disabilities.

In-depth interviews were conducted with nurses to examine experiences of supporting children with learning disabilities on an acute paediatric ward.

Benefits of developing positive relationships with families

The nurses reflected on similarities and differences in working with children who have learning disabilities and children without. They found there was a need to be adaptable and flexible with children who have learning disabilities and their families.

Establishing effective communication with a child who has a learning disability may take longer than with other children. The nurses described creative approaches to finding the necessary time.

Nurses stressed the benefits of developing positive relationships with families and engaging fully with their experience, knowledge and information, to enhance the quality of nursing care.

Effective relationships between parents and nurses were felt to be due to familiarity with people with learning disabilities over many years.


Reference

Lewis P, Wilson, N, Jaques H et al (2019) A qualitative study of nurses’ perspectives of caring for children with intellectual disability and their families in a paediatric acute care setting. Journal of Child Health Care.


Picture of Dave Atkinson, who is an independent consultant nurse. He reports on a study in which nurses were interviewed about caring for children with learning disabilities in acute settings.Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse

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