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Learning Disabilities role – Rob’s Blog

Nursing Assistant Practitioner Rob Blowers tells us what his role entails, what some of the challenges are and why he enjoys working with people with learning disabilities.

A photo of Rob Blowers

Rob Blowers
Nursing Assistant Practitioner
Community Learning Disabilities Team City

My role in the trust is a Nursing Assistant Practitioner. I have worked within the Learning Disabilities Team for almost 6 years as part of the nursing team, starting as an HCA before becoming an AP. My role includes supporting clients with health appointments, health promotion, health guidance and support, sex education for male clients, men’s health and blood desensitisation.

I enjoy working with people with learning disabilities as every client is individual, with their own needs and levels of ability. I really enjoy getting to know the clients we support, as well as meeting their families or care providers. For me, to make that difference with a client is the most important factor of my role. It may be a client with a fear of going to a health appointment due to a full waiting room, or anxiety when speaking with a doctor. My role is to provide that support, as well as acting as an advocate for the client. If a reasonable adjustment needs to be made for a client such as waiting in a quiet area at an appointment, I can request this for the client, whereas if the client was unsupported this would increase anxiety. Communication between a client and health professional may be barriered, therefore this is something I support with in my role.

I have learned a lot from my time within the team. I have learned about working as part of a multi-disciplinary team as well as a multi-agency team. I learn daily from my health colleagues, and my social work colleagues. I have learned about syndromes I had never heard of, as well as learning about the challenges clients with a learning disability face when accessing mainstream health services.

One of the biggest challenges has been COVID-19 and the lockdown, and the limitations to seeing the clients I supported during that time. It was vital to ensure client’s needs were met throughout the pandemic. The LD team all worked from home as our base was closed which was a difficult adjustment as colleagues could only meet in the virtual world as opposed to face to face discussions. Adaptation was also imperative for clients, especially those who lived alone. My role changed in that I was making more telephone calls to clients instead of face to face contact. I still provided face to face support when it was required such as health appointments. The pandemic was an opportunity to use the creative skills that I had developed while working in the LD team.

I am helping people with learning disabilities to live their best lives by understanding their needs. For our clients, communication is vital and again this is something that needs to be adapted depending on the communication levels of the client. I find that by showing empathy compassion and humanity, this helps to ensure the client feels supported and confident when attending appointments. Listening and providing time for a client to answer a question or express their feelings is vital in healthcare. There are differences in the mental capacity of a client and again it is adapting styles of communication to ensure that the client has their needs met.

My biggest achievements in my career is completing the Foundation Degree in Health and Science and being invited to speak at the 4th National Learning Disability Symposium in February this year. The symposium is something I don’t think I would have been able to do in any other speciality and it was a privilege to be invited to speak.

Learning Disabilities feels like more than a job, and every day is very different and presents with challenges, rewards and a sense of making a difference to people’s lives.