“We are making a positive difference to thousands of people” – Angela’s International Nurses Day story
International Nurses Day takes place on Friday 12 May 2023. It is a chance to celebrate and recognise the remarkable contribution nurses make. To mark the day, learning disability nurse Angela Burton shared her story of the work she’s doing to improve the health and wellbeing of people with a learning disability in Calderdale.
Making a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, their families, and supporters in Calderdale
“Hello my name is Angela Burton and I am a learning disability nurse working for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as the strategic health facilitator for Calderdale.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in this role since October 2021, where I work with and support people with learning disabilities, their families, and supporters, to improve their interactions with health and care services and make a positive difference to their mental and physical health and wellbeing.
I work with the Calderdale self-advocacy network to make sure views and ideas from people with a lived experience are shared and implemented, both in care delivery and when developing posters and leaflets to promote the importance of eligible people attending learning disability annual health checks and receiving health actions plans.
I also work with Lead the Way, a service for adults living in Calderdale who have a learning disability and their family carers, to offer training for GP practices to help them make reasonable adjustments to the way they provide support and to promote the importance of annual health checks and health action plans.
So far, many of Calderdale’s GP practices have undertaken training to improve the quality of annual health checks and the health action plans that are devised with the person to give information about what that person needs and wants to do to stay healthy.
The work we’re doing here is vital in improving the health and lives of people who have a learning disability. It is pleasing to know that 81% of eligible people had either had or refused the offer of an annual health check the end of March 2022. That rose to 87% by the end of March 2023. While these numbers are fantastic and speak volumes about the work we’re doing in the community, the work we’re doing to improve the quality of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities is just as important.
To ensure quality around health checks for people with learning disabilities, we share information about the Mental Capacity Act, reasonable adjustments in care provision (and the importance of recording these on the person’s record), diagnostic overshadowing and actions staff can take to reduce health inequalities for people with learning disabilities. As part of my role is to share information such as LeDeR, local data and polices and legislation with appropriate organisations to inform service planning and delivery.
While in this role, I’ve also been able to make a difference to peoples’ health and wellbeing by supporting the setup and implementation of a process for learning disability flagging for bowel screening, by working closely with the Calderdale Learning Disability Health Team, Calderdale Cares Partnership, the West Yorkshire Cancer Alliance, GP Practices and Calderdale’s primary care networks.
As part of the improvement, I provided training, so staff felt confident to implement the process and shared useful resources and information on support that is available. Through this work reasonable adjustments have been put in place to support people with learning disabilities to complete their bowel screening kit. By sharing information and discussing the process before the bowel screening kit arrives helps to reduce anxiety and helps us to talk about the benefits of screening.
I’ve also worked with GP practices to align their adult learning disability registers with the local authority and speciality care services. This is critical to ongoing health and wellbeing, as accurate recording of patient information on GP learning registers means that a patient’s reasonable adjustments can be put in place, and appropriate support such as annual health checks and vaccinations are offered when needed.
I feel incredibly honoured to be in a role that allows me to see first-hand the work that’s being done in Calderdale to support the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities, their families, and supporters. As an experienced learning disability nurse, I know the challenges people can face, but the work we are doing here in Calderdale is making a positive difference to the lives of thousands of people.
There’s lots of work still to do, but we’ve made a great start.”