The University of South Wales (USW) has been awarded circa £40k from the General Nursing Council to conduct an exploratory study into how Registered Learning Disability Nurses (RN(LD)s) working in England and Wales have adapted their practice during Covid-19.
The proposed research study aims to address a gap in the evidence base through exploration of the role of the RNLD in supporting the health and well-being in the context of Covid-19.
It will seek to explore not only what RNLDs have been doing to adapt their practice but also how this adaptation has taken place, what the impact has been, and what outcomes have been achieved.
Stacey Rees, principal investigator, said: “There are emerging reports of how nurses specialising in the care and support of people with learning disabilities are seeking to adapt their practice in order to identify and respond to the challenges of Covid-19. However, despite this adaptability, at present there is very limited empirical evidence relating to the nature and impact of current nursing practice innovations and this has a number of consequences."
“There is a danger that the learning and practice development that has taken place since the beginning of the pandemic may not be recognised, reported and shared so that the lessons learnt are lost, good practice is not widely shared, and opportunities for further practice development are missed. Ultimately this would mean that opportunities to reduce the health inequalities and inequities experienced by people with learning disabilities may be lost," Stacey said.
“What is more, the opportunity to make visible the contribution that learning disability nurses make to the health and well-being of people with learning disabilities would be missed," she concluded.
Findings from the 18-month study, which is due to commence in September 2021, will assist in the development of learning disability nursing practice, inform nurse education, contribute to professional policy making and form the basis for further research
Stacey Rees is an early career researcher at USW. Her doctoral work focused on community learning disability nurses supporting adults with learning disabilities in Wales to access secondary care: an exploratory study within the social model of disability.
In addition to her doctoral studies, Stacey has been involved in a review of health communication tools for use with people with learning disabilities (Northway et al, 2017) which formed the basis for further research to inform the development of a new All Wales Health Profile tool that is subsequently being rolled out across Wales. See more of our research here.