Two Cumbrian learning disability nurses have been selected out of hundreds of applicants to undertake a prestigious leadership course in London. Fully funded by health education England Becca Reid and Kirsty Rudd are two of only 40 nurses from across the UK to be offered a place on the Florence Nightingale Foundation’s very first leadership programme for Learning Disability nurses.
Becca said: “I’m so excited, the selection process was very intense and I was one of 100 nurses selected for interview down in London, I have no idea how many more actually applied before that shortlist. Then to be one of the 40 selected is just incredible, I’m so grateful for this opportunity.
“I’m especially excited because we get to work on an improvement programme that we can implement in our teams locally. Kirsty and I are both passionate about reducing readmission rates for patients with learning disabilities and we will be presenting our proposal in May.
Kirsty said “I was very eager to apply for the Leadership course as I knew that the information I would learn would be invaluable to improving my own skill set, meaning I could provide better care for my patients, as well as being better prepared to support my colleagues. When I received the email to confirm I had been offered a place, without interview, I was incredibly excited. It was a real personal accomplishment.
“As Learning Disabilities Nurses, we have a specific skill set and communication is an invaluable skill that we utilise. Many of our patients or service users have difficulty communicating their needs, so it is essential that we are able to utilise our skills to better support our patients. I feel passionately about providing better care and the Leadership Programme has taught me how best to use my personal abilities.
“Becca and myself are both eager to enhance our patients’ lives and being able to work on an improvement programme that aims to do that, is a goal for us both.”
As part of the course Kirsty and Becca as developing an improvement programme to help reduce the rates of readmission into hospital for those with learning disabilities.
Kirsty explained: “For those with learning disabilities, a holistic approach to health and wellbeing is needed, for example if someone’s mental health is in decline because they can no longer get to a weekly support group, this could lead to them neglecting their physical and mental health which could lead to a readmission. If we can make sure that there are strong support networks in place and we have taught those patients and their family or carers, to recognise when their health is deteriorating, then the goal would be to reduce the possibilities of readmission to hospital.”
Becca added: “No one wants to be in hospital and the more we can make sure people are supported to stay at home and lead as independent a life as possible then that is better for everyone.
“This course is going to improve our leadership skills but also, we hope, give us the tools to make improvements locally for our patients.”
As well as their own improvement programmes the pair will be able to bring back the improvements projects from the other 18 members of the course and so across the country best practice and expertise will be shared and improvements will be made for those with learning disabilities.
Kay Lynas, is Becca’s line manager she said how proud she was: “This is not an easy course to get onto, and while it is an amazing opportunity for Becca and Kirsty it also shows the high level of skills and dedication that our Learning Disability nurses in Cumbria have. I hope that the course will build the skills and confidence they need to develop the service and help her with future promotions as well as the confidence to put new ideas forward.”