Technorati href="http://www.technorProfile Thinking Nurse: Positive Choices Conference Report - Jason Grundy and Bob Gates

Thinking Nurse

This blog will reflect my interests in learning disabilities, nursing, nursing theory, philosophy and politics and my general interests in the arts and literature. (Nursing is an art as well as a science!) Philosophy and nursing have been intrinsically linked since the days of Socrates, his mother was a midwife, and taught him everything he knew!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Positive Choices Conference Report - Jason Grundy and Bob Gates

For the first time ever, a national conference of student learning disability nurses brought together hundreds of students at the University of Nottingham.

The conference was the brainchild of Jason Grundy, who, incidentally, holds the world speed record for rowing around the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately for Jason, he also gained the world speed record for descending a flight of stairs, the night before the conference, so he was unable to open the proceedings, spending the morning at casualty instead! (He was there for the afternoon - giving an impressive speech. I made a note on my pad: "Jason Grundy - a name I will hear again".

First speech at the conference was by the eminent Professor Bob Gates on the theme "Choosing to be different", it was also a tour of the past, present and future of learning disability nursing, conducted, thanks to the wonders of 'Powerpoint' via a working model of Dr Who's Tardis.

He described his own 'Choice to be Different' when he made the decision to become a learning disability nurse, much to the chagrin of his father. He cut a rather remarkable figure in his role at the local 'Mental Subnormality Hospital' with his buttock-length hair, tie-dye T Shirt and purple velvet loons.

He pointed out, that while many people make the choice to be different, some people have no choice, and that the dearest wish of some people with learning disabilities is to be accepted as 'ordinary people'.

People with learning disabilities, he stated are the most socially marginalised group in society. When they access mainstream health services, they are faced with a disproportionate risk of ill health, limited health education, poor screening, hostile environments and segregation.

Gates briefly covered the main aims of the government White Paper 'Valuing People', and described some of the research he had been involved in, about people with learning disabilities and mental health problems experiences of accessing mainstream mental health services.

People with learning disabilities who used such mental health facilities had a simple list of wishes and dreams, such as 'more support to go out more often' 'getting a good explanation of my medicine' 'more workshops and training for staff on awareness of mental health and learning disability'. (Bob's presentation on this issue will be posted soon on the
Positive Choices Conference website.

The major experience of people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, is that it is not enough just to 'get in' to these services - when they do they are pushed to the margins and treated differently - real access means staff becoming aware of the needs of these people, and respecting them.

The experience of people with learning disabilities of accessing mainstream services that cater for physical health are very similar. The Disability Rights Commission are launching an enquiry into the major health inequalities that lead to people with learning disabilities having a mortality rate up to 4 times higher than the general population.

Bob asserted that Learning Disability Nursing has 'a wonderful future' - our role will be as 'Agents of Social Inclusion', battling against the 'fear and misunderstanding' of people with learning disabilities that exists in mainstream health services, including among nurses:

"Some people need help to achieve ordinariness, extraordinary people are needed to help with this". Learning Disability Nurses are ideally placed to be these people, they are the only current social care practioners who spend 2 of their 3 years preparation for practice specifically in the field of learning disabilities. Our task as agents of social inclusion lies in bringing the needs and wishes of people with learning disabilities to the fore in mainstream services.

(More on this conference to come - including reports of Ruth Northway's presentation, and most importantly, the excellent presentations made by the student Learning disability Nurses.)


At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi and thanks for the positive comments about the conference. Glad to say my head is much better now although the memory is still painful!!

For all those interested keep an eye open for next years event as there will some news soon. Dont forget we will be looking for motivated students to get involved, so if you have the time and passion for LD nursing then get in touch via your university lecturers.

Jason grundy...

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