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How to become a Nurse specialising in Special Needs

nurse specialising in special needs careers

What does a Nurse specialising in Special Needs do?

Learning disability nurses work with people of all ages who are experiencing a range of difficulties in coping with aspects of every day life.

Learning disability nurses support clients by teaching them skills and giving them the confidence needed to be as independent as possible. They also support clients' families and carers.

The level of support provided will vary and may include assisting clients with personal hygiene, dressing, using public transport, going on shopping trips, and attending appointments. Nurses in this branch may also support clients in the work place, in education, or at home helping them bring up a family.

People with learning disabilities may have other problems such as physical disabilities, problems with speech, hearing or vision, or epilepsy. Learning disability nurses help to assess these problems and make sure the client gets the most appropriate treatment or therapy.

Many learning disability nurses will also be managers, supervising a team of support workers. Through their work they collaborate with a range of other health care professionals including doctors, physiotherapists and speech therapists, as well as social workers and teachers.

What's the working environment like working as a Nurse specialising in Special Needs?

Nurses in the NHS work 37.5 hours a week, which can include evening, weekend and night shifts. Many hospitals offer flexible hours of work. Some nurses work extra hours, either as overtime or for nursing agencies that supply staff to the private sector.

Learning disability nurses can work in hospitals, but more often they are based in clients’ homes, residential units, hostels, daycare centres, and mainstream or special schools.

What does it take to become a Nurse specialising in Special Needs?

To be a learning disability nurse you should:

  • have patience and sensitivity
  • have well developed and flexible communication skills
  • be able to stay calm and in control in difficult situations
  • be assertive - able to represent a client’s interests
  • be adaptable, resourceful and self aware
  • be able to recognise signs of physical or emotional problems.

Nurse specialising in Special Needs Career Opportunities

Opportunities are good, as there is a shortage of nurses in the UK. Promotion prospects in the NHS are excellent and there is a clearly defined career structure. There are new nurse consultant posts at the top of the profession.

Learning disability nurses may choose to specialise in an area such as sensory disability or manage a learning disability unit; become a team leader in a residential unit; or train for another branch of nursing - adult, child or mental health.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Nurse specialising in Special Needs that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655

Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (NMAS)
New Barn Lane
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 112 2206 for general enquiries
Tel: 0870 112 2200 for application packs

Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
New Barn Lane
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 1122 211

23 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7637 7181
Registration contacts
Overseas: 020 7333 6600
General: 020 7333 9333

NHS Education for Scotland
Careers Information Service
66 Rose Street
Tel: 0131 225 4365

Health Professions Wales
2nd Floor, Golate House
101 St Mary Street
CF10 1DX
Tel: 029 2026 1400

Northern Ireland
Queens University of Belfast
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Medical Biology Centre
97 Lisburn Road
Tel: 028 9097 2233

University of Ulster at Jordanstown
School of Nursing
Shore Road
Co Antrim
BT37 0Q
Tel: 08700 400 700

Courses to help you become a Nurse specialising in Special Needs