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Learning disability nurse

Learning disability nurses provide healthcare and education to differently-abled patients.
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What does a learning disability nurse do?

Working alongside other medical teams and health professionals, learning disability nurses draw up care plans to ensure patients get the medical care and support they need to be able to live independently. This can include improving a person’s physical or mental health, teaching people skills to look after themselves and live healthily, and supporting people with everyday activities, such as managing their finances, travelling to college or work, or meeting friends and family.

Responsibilities include:

  • taking and making healthcare referrals
  • organising home visits to engage with vulnerable people and their carers
  • assessing and agreeing tailored care packages
  • coordinating reviews with health and social care professionals
  • arranging visits to hospitals and GP surgeries
  • planning group sessions to support people who have similar care needs, where appropriate
  • planning social activities and events for groups of patients
  • supporting community-based health and social care teams
  • ensuring full and accurate patient records are maintained
  • arranging clinical supervision sessions for your own personal and professional development

What do I need to do to become a learning disability nurse?

To become a learning disability nurse, you will need:

  • a nursing-related degree
  • to be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council – you will need to have completed a pre-registration nursing programme. These are only run at NMC approved higher education institutions (AEIs)
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance
  • to successfully meet the NMC’s requirements of good health and good character

You may be able to take a shorter programme if you already have a health-related or biology-based degree, or other practice-based learning.

The entry requirements for degree courses are set by universities and can vary, so make sure you check these carefully before applying. 

Nursing degree apprenticeship
A nursing degree apprenticeship offers the opportunity to study while working, giving you a flexible route to becoming a nurse while studying part-time at university, and takes three to four years to complete.

Related skills

  • Administration
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisation
  • Patience
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Academic route

  • Three A levels, one of which must be in a science or health-related subject
  • Scottish National 4 qualifications including English, maths, and science subjects
  • Pre-registration MSc, postgraduate diploma courses for graduates in health, or science-related degrees
  • Return to practice (RTP) programme for returners to the NHS

Vocational route

  • Some universities may accept Level 3 vocational qualifications, but entry requirements vary. Full information will be detailed on the university’s website.
  • NVQs
  • BTECs
  • City & Guilds
  • International Baccalaureate diploma
  • Nursing associate qualification (Level 5)

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Religious studies

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

  • Visiting people in their own home or supported living setting
  • GP practices
  • Based in education, e.g. a school or college
  • Supported accommodation
  • In a workplace
  • Hospital ward
  • Community centre
  • Prison

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