A nursing students drive to improve her peers understanding of patients with learning disabilities led to her be shortlisted for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016 Andrew Parker student nurse award.

Amy Wixey.  Picture credit: Neil O'Connor

The prize, supported by the RCN, recognises nursing students whose practice, perceptions or interactions with patients have changed as a result of an incident or experience during training.

Amy Wixey, a third-year learning disabilities nursing student at the University of Chester, developed a range of tools to help adult nursing students deepen their understanding of people with learning disabilities and their care needs.

She began by leading a session on learning disabilities in the nursing student induction programme, which was geared to promoting collaboration between the adult and learning disability branches in the future.

With a lecturer, she created a Twitter profile for nursing students that has 500 followers. She manages the account, including Twitter chats, the latest focusing on practice placements.

Amy recently led a working group of lecturers and students to establish a communication aid for all nursing students to use in practice. Having received positive feedback, she secured funding from the university to enable each nursing student to receive one.

A trust-wide implementation is being considered and she will evaluate the tool, which she has also presented at a national conference.

Amy Wixey.  Picture credit: Neil O'Connor

Amy says: All nurses working with people with learning disabilities have a role in developing a better understanding of their needs. If this starts in education it can have a lasting impact on how nurses practise.

Students come together and bring a variety of attitudes and preconceived ideas that can be challenged in a safe environment. The voice of a fellow student is powerful and influential in addressing this to improve the care of people with learning disabilities.

I felt delighted, grateful and proud, when I opened my email and read I had been shortlisted for the award.

Sara Bell, deputy head of mental health and learning disabilities at the University of Chester, says: Amy has embraced the concept of challenging misconceptions of the health needs of people with learning disabilities by becoming a role model in the faculty.

Her idea to empower other students through knowledge has proved successful, and she has worked professionally and collaboratively with service users, practice and academic staff to achieve this.

Her initiatives are not only relevant to today but will be embedded in the faculty to empower future student nurses, leading to better health outcomes for the learning-disabled population.

About the sponsor

Royal College of Nursing


In 2016 the Royal College of Nursing celebrates a centenary as the voice of the profession. From its original educational and professional objectives, the college has grown into the largest professional union for nursing with more than 430,000 members including nurses, midwives, healthcare support workers and students. It continues to campaign across the UK and internationally, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of nursing staff and their patients. Sponsoring the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award tonight is just part of the colleges commitment to supporting nursing excellence for 100 years more.

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