What all nurses have to gain from learning disabilities training

Our podcast looks at what's behind mandatory training, plus useful care strategies from specialist nurses

Picture of Jim Blair, a learning disability nurse consultant, and Lauretta Ofulue, a learning disability nurse now training to be a specialist community public health nurse, who feature in the latest Nursing Standard podcast
Lauretta Ofulue and Jim Blair

All nurses in England could soon receive mandatory training in caring for people with learning disabilities and autism.

The latest episode of the Nursing Standard podcast looks at the reasons behind the move and the strategies all nurses can learn from those working in this specialist field.

What reasonable adjustments and diagnostic overshadowing mean in practice

We hear from two nurses, learning disability nurse consultant Jim Blair and Lauretta Ofulue, a learning disability nurse now training to be a specialist community public health nurse.

The pair first met when Mr Blair nursed Ms Ofulue’s son Otito, who had a learning disability and autism, at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. This meeting and the experience of caring for her severely disabled son, who has since died, led Ms Ofulue to switch careers, from working as an economist to retraining as a learning disability nurse.

They tell Christine Walker, editor of our sister journal Learning Disability Practice, their strategies for supporting people with learning disabilities and autism and explain what making reasonable adjustments and avoiding diagnostic overshadowing mean in practice.

Training programme could be implemented nationwide next year

Health Education England is currently running a pilot of the mandatory training in learning disabilities and autism that, if successful, could be introduced for all health and care professionals nationwide next year.

The training programme is named after Oliver McGowan, who had high-functioning autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy and died aged 18 after being given an antipsychotic medication to which he had a sensitivity.

His mother Paula McGowan believes a lack of communication with his specialist team by the medics treating him contributed to his death. She petitioned the government for mandatory training for all health and care professionals.

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