大象传媒

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Setting: Day centre with nursing for adults with learning disabilities complex health.

Gerrard profile

Over a long working career, I鈥檝e been fortunate to work with inspiring and incredible people, I鈥檓 always conscious of what I鈥檝e leant from people with learning disabilities and consider myself fortunate to increasingly work in partnership with people with lived experience through coproduction and partnership working.

Holly
on what brings joy to the role

 

Overview of current role

My role as day centre lead focuses on developing a responsive service for adults with learning disabilities who live with their families. I support them in accessing a range of inclusive and person-centred leisure and social opportunities as well as developing independence and providing support to improve health outcomes.

 

Qualifications and education

  • registered nurse - learning disabilities

  • registered managers award

  • BSc in Business Studies.

 

Training, knowledge and skills

  • experience of supporting a wide range of adults with learning disabilities, profound and multiple learning disabilities, complex health support needs.

  • experience of leading a range of teams and working as part of an MDT

  • people skills, the ability to communicate effectively and meaningfully with a range of people with diverse communication styles

  • working strategically, addressing specific health inequalities locally and nationally

  • sound knowledge of legislation and regulations related to learning disabilities and health and social care

  • developing resources to enhance best practice

  • teaching and supporting learners in a range of settings.

  

How did I get here

I have always had an interest in the arts and creativity, after leaving school I studied fine art. Through an art therapy programme, I had an opportunity to support a group of people with learning disabilities and realised this was what I really wanted to do. In 1990 I began my career as a l learning disability nurse.

My first experience of supporting people was in a segregated setting in a long stay hospital for people with learning disabilities. My first nursing post was supporting the move of people from segregated care into smaller community-based services under the Community Care Act. To be part of such a significant period in the lives of the people affected was a huge privilege and had a huge impact on me with the move to integrated models of care.

I moved on from this to work as a registered manager in a range of services leading teams primarily in health and social care settings. During this time there was a significant change in the values and attitudes of the wider public towards people with learning disabilities, which led to improved integration and opportunities.

My next focus was on palliative care and complex health for people with learning disabilities. I was also part of the movement to support the development of non-linguistic communication approaches for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

As well as working closely with acute settings to reduce hospital admissions and improve the health outcomes and develop the concept of reasonable adjustments and person-centred approaches, I also worked closely with LeDeR. I became more focused on targeted approaches to address health inequalities.

In 2020 I founded of The Unsafe Swallow Project providing accessible health promotion to help people with learning disabilities, their families and carers to reduce swallowing risks which can lead to aspiration Unsafe Swallow and Aspiration Project. In 2022 I was awarded RCN Learning Disability recognition of this.

In 2023 The Unsafe Swallow Project was set up as a social enterprise and I now work collaboratively with people with learning disabilities to develop and deliver accessible health promotion resources. In 2023 I completed a documentary film on the social history of people with learning disability in my region Remembering Stansfield View (2023 Documentary).