Editorial

Post COVID-19: what will be the ‘new normal’ for learning disability nurses?

In the new virtual world healthcare consultations need to be conducted with the same care and dignity as face to face
Young child with learning disabilities being guided by her parent to use virtual technology

In the new virtual world, healthcare consultations need to be conducted with the same care and dignity as face to face

The mainstream media uses the phrase the new normal constantly, but post COVID-19 what will be the new normal for us as learning disability nurses?

How have we flexed our skills over the past four months? And how confident and competent have we been in using approaches to working with and for people who have a learning disability?

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In the new virtual world, healthcare consultations need to be conducted with the same care and dignity as face to face


Picture: iStock

The mainstream media uses the phrase the ‘new normal’ constantly, but post COVID-19 what will be the new normal for us as learning disability nurses? 

How have we ‘flexed our skills’ over the past four months? And how confident and competent have we been in using approaches to working with and for people who have a learning disability?

‘How have we ‘flexed our skills’ over the past four months? And how confident and competent have we been in using approaches to working with and for people who have a learning disability?’

As we move away from lockdown, reflect on the lessons we have learned, and the way our work has adapted, I wonder whether we have brought families along with us in this new online world of meetings and appointments?

Servicer user unable to give consent for intimate medical examination

Examples of how it can go wrong include a young service user, unable to give his own consent, but was asked to show an intimate area of his body on camera for the health centre to offer advice on a sore area.

A young woman with impacted wisdom teeth and infection whose parents ended up in the emergency department in desperation after her third over-the-phone prescription for antibiotics had limited effect. She subsequently had surgery to remove five teeth.

And a mum who was asked to attend an online meeting to review her child’s package of services and was told her child was being disruptive – he was shredding his clothes in frustration that he couldn’t go out – so the meeting would be postponed until she could organise someone else to be with him

Using technology effectively to ensure individuals receive care based on unique needs

How will communication and co-production look tomorrow? Will we work expediently with the technology and somehow overlook the indignity of bearing your body to the camera?

Will our responses reflect the new and real struggles families are facing today rather the ones of yesterday?

Will we teach nurses how to use this technology effectively and ensure individuals receive care based on their unique needs that is effective in its delivery and appropriate for their current situation?

I certainly hope so.


Helen Laverty is academic lead for learning disability and mental health nursing, University of Nottingham, and a member of the editorial advisory board of Learning Disability Practice


 

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