Raising awareness of forensic learning disability services with University students


To raise awareness among student learning disability nurses of the care services for people with learning disabilities within a forensic setting, advanced nurse practitioner Anne Todd organised two open days at Newton Lodge in Wakefield.

The open days were organised to give students in their first, second and third years of study, the opportunity to explore the facilities within a secure setting, find out more about the different staff roles within learning disability services and develop an understanding of the range of interventions available for people in the service.

Anne explained, “During my secondment at a university I realised that nursing students who had not experienced placements in forensic services lacked understanding about care in these environments and could express negative and stereotypical views about such services. Therefore to reduce these stereotypes and to highlight how skills developed on placements within this particular environment can be transferred to other placements, I organised the two open days for students at York University and Huddersfield University.

“Both days were well attended and I was really pleased that so many students chose to come along to find out more about the learning disability services within a forensic setting.”

Both open days featured presentations by a number of staff working within the forensic service including a ward manager, psychiatrist, psychologist, occupational therapist and a range of different nursing staff, who spoke about their roles. The students were also invited to take a tour of the Appleton and Chippendale wards at Newton Lodge, which provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for people with learning disabilities.

Appleton ward
Appleton ward

Anne explained, “The tours of the wards were a really positive experience for the students as not only did they have the opportunity to see the environment in which we care for people, but they also got to meet a number of the service users who are currently in touch with the service. The service users were encouraged to talk with the students and two were confident to show their rooms to them.”

The students who attended were asked to evaluate the day and the following feedback highlights how valuable they found it:

• “A very comprehensive and informative day, it has increased my awareness of medium secure settings”

• “Very informative and made the service extremely appealing, gave an excellent overview of the service, really enjoyable. All the staff were approachable and have answered any queries brilliantly”

• “Seeing how positive the staff were and the genuine support they seem to have in place for newly qualified staff and students.”

• “A basic understanding of the medium secure unit provided me with a useful insight into the service. This is an area of work that I have had no experience of and it has developed my understanding of the service.”

• “The tour of the wards was eye opening. I’ve learnt that medium secure units are not scary places to be.”

• “I have learnt what role the nurse has and how closely they work with MDT’s. I have thoroughly enjoyed this and it has completely changed my perception of the place.”

• “I thought the day was well planned out and helped increase my knowledge. The tour also helped me to come to terms with a secure unit rather than a prison point of view.”

• “Thought the tour of Chippendale from the service user was a fantastic reflection on his positive experience of the service.”

Anne is planning on hosting further open days for the next cohort of student learning disability nurses to encourage more people to consider applying for a placement within a secure setting to expand their knowledge and experience.

For more information about the open days contact anne.todd@swyt.nhs.uk


Raising awareness of forensic learning disability services with University students

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