Alison Kilduff, Head of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Derby

For #InternationalNursesDay2020 today (12 May) Alison Kilduff, Head of #MentalHealth #Nursing @DerbyUni highlights the acute shortage of nurses working with people with psychological conditions and learning disabilities, and focuses on the rewards of this challenging role:

The current coronavirus crisis has brought the importance of nursing to the fore, and has, time and again, demonstrated the skill and dedication of nurses and health professionals. Long before the pandemic began, it was frequently reported in the media that the UK was desperately short of nurses.

Because nursing is a hugely diverse profession, that shortage is not equally shared and some areas have a greater deficit than others. Two such areas are mental health and learning disability nursing*, and demand is now very high for good quality professionals in these fields.

Great challenges and unrivalled rewards

Make no mistake, working as a nurse in mental health and learning disability is a highly challenging job. Nurses are likely to be caring for people with a range of conditions, from autism and schizophrenia to dementia and addiction, with high and extremely individualised care needs. This presents a huge amount of challenges in the daily job, and requires patience, tenacity and relentless enthusiasm to deliver that care. However, despite the challenges, working as a mental health nurse or learning disability nurse can bring unrivalled rewards.

Helping some of the most vulnerable individuals in the country and making a difference to society are often the reasons why many people choose to work in these specialised sectors, and it provides significant job satisfaction on a daily basis.

Individual needs and different environments

Being interested in people and making a difference to the lives of individuals too by helping people manage their own recovery are the most common motivations for working with people with mental health or learning disability issues.

Providing a person-centred assessment of care need, developing a programme of complex interventions and delivering specialised care on a daily basis are all tasks which are focused around building positive therapeutic relationships with patients or service users.

It isn’t just the people that nursing staff work with that needs to be fully understood, but the setting too. Mental health and learning disability care can mean working in a wide range of environments, such as hospitals, in the community, in schools and even prisons; wherever specialist skills are needed to help to rehabilitate and enhance the quality of life of people of all ages, living with a range of conditions.

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Progression and security

With such a wide range of skills open for development and the frequent opportunities to interact with each patient, it’s not difficult to see why this career path can offer so many opportunities to progress.

And as people working in mental health and learning disability are in such high demand, those that do make it into the profession can often count on a high level of job security and a great range of opportunities to develop personally and professionally.

Alison Kilduff, Head of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Derby

*Measuring progress: Commitments to support and expand the mental health workforce in England, British Medical Association (January 2020)

 

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