Registered nurses (learning disabilities) help people with a range of physical and mental health conditions to achieve as much as they can in their daily lives. They assess clients’ needs, both physical and emotional, and provide appropriate care and support.
You could be:
- helping clients with everyday activities like attending to personal hygiene, socialising, using public transport, shopping, handling money, keeping appointments or doing simple jobs
- helping them manage emotional problems such as aggression, anger or excessive shyness
- working out care plans for clients
- arranging and taking part in social and working activities for clients
- teaching new skills
- helping clients cope with any additional problems such as epilepsy, speech or hearing problems
- keeping records of clients’ development and progress
- giving specialist advice to other health care professionals.
Nurses working for the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change pay scale. The current pay scales are from April 2017. A newly qualified nurse is on Band 5, £22,440 to £29,034 a year. A senior (charge nurse) or specialist nurse is on Band 6, £26,830 to £35,933 a year.
Those taking up posts through the internship programme for those registered with the One Year Job Guarantee Internship Scheme (see below) will be paid at Agenda for Change Band 5 (Point 16) pro-rata at 22.5 hours a week.
- You could work in a hospital or residential home, or in the community, where you would visit clients in their own homes.
- Working in the community might involve working alone often.
- You might travel with clients on public transport to teach them independence.
- You may have to work shifts and unsocial hours.
- You wear a uniform or protective clothing.
- You may have to do some heavy lifting.
- You may be able to work part time.
Workforce Employment Status
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To become a registered nurse (learning disabilities) you need a degree in nursing.
- Entry requirements for degree courses are usually 3-4 Highers and one or more subjects at National 5, preferably including English and a science subject. Courses last 3-4 years, depending on the institution.
- Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow Caledonian universities offers a 3-year degree course in nursing (learning disabilities). Entry to Edinburgh Napier is 3 Highers at BBC including English and a science subject plus English and a science subject (Biology preferred) at National 5, if not held at Higher. Glasgow Caledonian entry is 4 Highers at BBBB including English and preferably a science subject, plus National 5 Maths.
- An Access to nursing course may also give entry. However, always check that the course is accepted by the university or college you want to go to before you apply.
- You will require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
- You should have a good level of physical fitness. You will undergo health screening.
- When you complete your training you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
- It is helpful to have some experience in care work.
- Financial support is available from the Nursing and Midwifery Bursary Section of the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
Jobs are mainly in the National Health Service (NHS), in the community, in social work units and in nursing homes. You could also work in private hospitals, or for agencies. You can find NHS job vacancies in Scotland by visiting NHS Scotland Recruitment.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- able to get on well with people from all backgrounds
- able to communicate with people with speech and comprehension difficulties
- a good listener
- very observant and able to act on your own initiative
- willing to take responsibility for others
- confident to make decisions
- able to assess what is best for the patient
- resourceful and able to cope with emergencies
- able to remain calm in stressful situations.
You should also be:
- able to teach and encourage patients to develop their skills
- patient and understanding
- compassionate and sensitive.
- Once you have gained your NMC registration, training is on the job.
- During your first year as a newly qualified nurse with the NHS, you get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start programme.
- To continue working as a nurse you must renew your registration with the NMC every three years.
- You must keep your skills and knowledge up to date, by undertaking at least 35 hours of relevant study every three years. This is known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
- With experience you could become a team leader, responsible for a residential unit, or you might specialise in an area such as sensory disability.
- You might specialise in working with children or older people.
- British nursing qualifications are recognised in many overseas countries, so you could work abroad.
The Scottish Government introduced the One Year Job Guarantee Internship Programme for newly qualified nurses and midwives to help improve their chances of finding work as well as developing their skills. The internships are one-year fixed term contracts at 22.5 hours a week, set at grade 5 on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale. For further details contact NHS Education for Scotland.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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