Learning Disability Nursing

Yarrow is proud to offer learning disability nursing placements at one of our registered care homes. Learning disability nursing roles are broad and varied, providing not just specialist healthcare and support to those with a learning disability, but also a focus on the mental health of each individual. They can also be involved in helping people to lead a more independent life, and work closely with families and other staff to help achieve this.

As part of their university course, all student learning disability nurses complete multiple placements in a variety of settings, to gain first-hand experience of the job. The placements at Yarrow give students the opportunity to develop an understanding of approaches to care provision in a residential home. Learning disability nursing placements with Yarrow help to prepare students for their future roles in stimulating and rewarding careers.

Students come to us from two London universities, and work with us full-time for between six and 13 weeks. Placements are mentored and assessed by Martyne O’Reilly, manager of the care home and a highly experienced learning disability nurse who has been supporting students on placement for nearly 20 years.

Working in partnership

Martyne works closely with the students to make sure each placement is tailored to their individual needs, areas of interest and existing experience. Wherever possible the placement will include extra opportunities for development. This could include, for example, training courses in autism, Makaton and so on, to help gain certification. Students will also accompany service users on outings and appointments and will visit our other services such as The Gate Arts Centre.

On starting their placement, students are assigned to one service user, giving them a chance to get to know the individual well and gain a deeper understanding of their needs. There are also opportunities to work with people with acquired brain injury, for those hoping to work in this area.

Positive feedback

It is testament to the quality of the placements and the support offered by Martyne that some students complete several placements with us during their studies, and some have even returned to work with us after qualification.

Martyne receives lots of positive feedback for the placements. Maria completed a placement with us last year and now returns regularly to run yoga sessions with our residents:

“From the minute I arrived at the placement I felt at home and part of the team. I talked with all of the staff, and they were always willing to listen. I had lots of questions and felt very comfortable to ask them – which is not true of all placements. The placement taught me to stand back, be patient, look and listen and be there for the person. The service users need all of your attention and care, and we have so much to learn from them.”

Taiwo also recently completed a placement with Yarrow:

“Martyne as a result of your expertise and guidance, I have a much deeper understanding of my learning disability nursing career. I have learned a great deal from you, and your involvement has helped me in a variety of ways. Thank you so much for your commitment and assistance. You are a mentor in a million ways. My gratitude for your contribution to my future success is immeasurable!”

Jackie completed her placement earlier this year:

“Thank you for such an enjoyable past six weeks at your lovely home. Who would have known there would be so much love, care and friendly faces behind this little house? You have all taught me so much… but the most important thing that stands out for me is good care and respect for all of your beautiful residents overtakes everything. You have all been so welcoming, friendly and patient with me in showing me how to support you guys. You make up such a great team. For me it is such a breath of fresh air to see places like this exist! I miss each and every one of you and trust me I will never forget you guys! But hopefully it won’t be too long before I see you all again.”

Learning disability nurses are a vital part of the care and support for our service users. The role is skilled and demanding but extremely rewarding. If you are interested in becoming a learning disability nurse, you can find out more at the NHS Health Careers website here:


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