WeLDNurses Audio Account of #RNLDSummit

Monday 24th September 2018 by @WeLDnurses

Compiled by @IanUnitt and @dmarsden49

At the end of July, a summit was held at RCN HQ to acknowledge the challenges to the current and future learning disability nursing workforce in context with current evidence of significant health inequalities and perceived policy deficits. The event was arranged by the Learning / Intellectual Disability Nursing Academics Network (LIDNAN) and the UK Learning Disability Consultant Nurses Network with support from Council of Deans of Health and the Royal College of Nursing, while WeLDNurses were invited to facilitate the Social Media presence for the event.


WeLDNurses Contribution

Sam Abdulla led the team present at the event, including Flo Dowling, Daniel Marsden and Ian Unitt, encouraging engagement in the hashtag #RNLDSummit, and with the help of WeGizmos an event dashboard was set up. The WeGizmos wall recorded that 186 Contributors joined in the conversation, with 1092 total tweets, the best of which can be found at here while the dashboard and transcript can be found at here.

RNLD’s Audio Inspirations

Always looking for new and stimulating ways of harnessing the community’s contribution and acknowledging the calls for a media campaign for the learning disability nursing field, WeLDNurses chose to take a microphone to the event to find out why this cross section of learning disability nurses chose this career, and at what point they realised they could make a difference in the world by being a Learning Disability Nurse.

The resulting audio recording - lovingly enhanced and edited by the Peaky Blogger and WeLDNurses intern – Ian Unitt, is now available. These inspiring short stories shared by a cross section of the nurses attending the event ranged from a student’s perspective -Zoe Eccelshall - to the honoured Gwen Moulster and Helen Laverty who record the personal events that lead to a lifetime’s fight for inclusion and acknowledgment.

The WeLDNurses team believe that it’s these types of stories that remind us all why we chose to devote our careers to this work and enable us to find new reserves of creativity and resilience, essential at a time of almost universal pessimism. The team encourage you to take a listen to this audio experiment, and to tell your friends and colleagues why you chose to do what you do, and why you are still doing it today.

#RNLDSummit report

This summit, the second in ten years - comes at a time of increased evidence of health disparities that people with learning disabilities experience (Department of Health 2012, University of Bristol, 2013, HQIP, 2018) and much publicity of reducing numbers of Learning Disability Nurses in the NHS and those choosing to join the profession (Mitchell, 2018).


Cecelia Amin CBE – RCN President and parent carer reaffirmed the RCN’s call for urgent investment to attract more applicants. While new RCN Chief Exec Dame Donna Kinnair, said: “Those with learning disabilities already face a lower life expectancy and poorer health outcomes than the general population, and a lack of specialist knowledge will make matters worse”


While this experience is especially acute in the South of England, Becky Chester reported that the Chief Nursing Officers of all four countries recognise that even in places where the bursary has been retained, greater recruitment and retention would be required as Learning Disability Nurses are considered a significant driver in challenging health inequalities and facilitating access and positive timely outcomes for people with learning disabilities.


Sean Ledington from Learningdisabilitynurse.com reminded all in attendance that 2019 would be the centenary of the profession; he discussed his plans for regional conferences to mark this important date and offered a challenge to other areas to begin their planning.


Jonathan Beebee & Simon Jones reflect the RCN plans in light of the universally accepted emergency motion at 2018 Congress (Walker, 2018), while Giselle Cope shared the Foundation of Nursing Studies Celebrate Me project and encouraged participants to contribute.


Health Education England provided an overview of the data they had collected relating to the future workforce and the various pressure points, while Ben Briggs from NHS Improvement informed all about the development and implementation of the Learning Disability Improvement Standards.


Finally, organisers Jo Lay & Becky Chester facilitated some activities to encourage the group to consider how they might respond to current challenges, which would form the basis for an action plan that the Chief Nurses and other stakeholders could support.


The outcomes of the last Summit prompted the RCN Position Statement on Learning Disability Nursing, and the Strengthening the Commitment Project, both of which continue to exert a positive influence in the profession and the health economy. As we emerge from July’s event, we encourage you to share your reasons for becoming a learning disability nurse and remain ready to share these in innovative ways.




Department of Health (2012) Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital. Available online https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/213215/final-report.pdf Last accessed 19-9-18


HQIP (2018) The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Annual Report 2017. Available online at https://www.hqip.org.uk/resource/the-learning-disabilities-mortality-review-annual-report-2017/ Last Accessed 19-9-18


Mitchell, P (2018) RCN issues bleak warning on learning disabilities nursing 'crisis'. Available online at https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/rcn-issues-bleak-warning-on-learning-disabilities-nursing-crisis/7025615.article Last accessed 19-9-18


University of Bristol (2013) Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities. Available online at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cipold/ Last Accessed 19-9-18.


Walker, C (2018) RCN congress votes unanimously to preserve field of learning disability nursing. Available online at https://rcni.com/nursing-standard/newsroom/news/rcn-congress-votes-unanimously-to-preserve-field-of-learning-disability-nursing-133446 last accessed 19-9-18




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