The Department for Health and Social Care has recently announced that its consultation on training health and care professionals to better support people living with learning disabilities and autism will be extended by two weeks. This has been welcomed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which highlighted how important this aspect of nursing is.
The NMC, which is the UK’s independent regulator for nurses and midwives, has increased the amount students will need to learn about dealing with patients with learning difficulties in their training before they can become qualified. However, it has recommended a number of changes across the nursing profession.
For example, the body highlighted the need for training to be continuous throughout a nurse’s career, using ongoing learning rather than isolated sessions. It has asked the government to consider whether or not protected training time should be implemented for this purpose.
The NMC also recommended that training be made suitable for areas such as care homes, schools and prisons, rather than simply hospitals and GP surgeries. In addition, it stressed the need for professionals not to assume every behaviour or symptom of a patient is due to their learning disability, thus reducing the risks of a health issue being missed.
Unfortunately, these changes are very much needed. At the moment, people with a learning disability have an average life expectancy between 14 and 18 years lower than the general population, and it is thought that improvements in care could help improve this statistic.
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar at the NMC, said: “People with a learning disability and autistic people, their families and carers, have the same right as anyone else to receive safe and effective health and care.
“Through our own programme to reform nursing and midwifery education, we are already working to ensure that professionals across all health and care settings have the knowledge and understanding to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.”
Written by James Puckle
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