Learning Disability Practice conference 2018: nurses halve length of hospital stays

Scheme has led to earlier identification and discharge of people with a learning disability
Ged Jennings and Serena Jones

Scheme has led to earlier identification and discharge of people with a learning disability

Ged Jennings and Serena Jones speaking at the conference.
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Two learning disability nurses are helping to minimise hospital stays for patients in the north west of England.

Serena Jones and Ged Jennings, who work at The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, have helped to reduce the length of time a person with a learning disability spends in hospital by around half – from an average of 18 days in June to December 2016, to 8.9 days so far in 2018.

Speaking at the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester last week, Mr Jennings said: ‘Sometimes people are coming in for social needs – and a general, really busy hospital is not the right place for them.’ 

The pair introduced a flagging system, in which staff can tick a box on a patient’s electronic record if they are known or thought to have a learning disability.

Ms Jones and Mr Jennings – who were finalists at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 – go through each patient file every morning to ensure they visit anyone with a learning disability who has been admitted to hospital. 

The pair also check the emergency department (ED) whiteboards for names that have had a sticker placed next to them, which has a specially designed logo signifying that the person has a learning disability.

Case study: Ged Jennings & Serena Jones on transitioning to adult services


Swift identification

‘It’s really important that if somebody has come into the ED overnight, and hasn’t been referred to our team, that we can identify the patient and see if we can get them out of hospital,’ Mr Jennings said.

While in hospital, patients are given a learning disability pack, which includes easy-to-read, one-page profiles of nursing staff, so they can feel more comfortable about who is treating them.

Ms Jones and Mr Jennings said they are working with the trust’s IT department to build an automatic alert system, which would inform them when someone has been flagged with a learning disability. 

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