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Duties of Learning Disability Nurses


Learning Disability (LD) is a neurological disorder that causes problems in interpreting information fed to the brain either through hearing, seeing, or touching. Unlike other medical terms that can be precisely defined, learning disability definition and what constitutes it has been a subject of much debate for a long time. Since the shortcomings of those affected with this syndrome vary, Learning Disability Nurses should possess a diverse range of skills. The nurses must be aware of the professional standards and behaviors they will apply to different scenarios. They should also always adhere to the set regulatory frameworks and maintain ethical policies in their work. More importantly, nurses need to be able to study their clients to be able to offer specialized care. Strategic communication and decision-making skills, among other roles explained in this essay, are also important for nurses in this field.

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Roles of the Learning Disability Nurses

The roles of a learning disability nurse are often thought to be synonymous with those of the contemporary nursing profession. Despite this being true, there are some unique roles that LD nurses have to perform due to the nature of their work. A learning disability nurse performs multiple functions, all focused on better lives for their clients, unlike the other nurses. Apart from being diverse, the roles of LD nurses are also constantly changing. The roles and responsibilities of nurses caring for people with intellectual disabilities continue to evolve (Jaques et al., 2018). Decision-making and problem-solving techniques in learning disabilities are changing from discrete heuristics to more evidence-based best practices. It is for these reasons that the roles learning disability nurses play should be looked at separately from traditional nursing roles.

Most learning disabilities are diagnosed during school years since most affect people’s reading and learning abilities. However, learning disabilities are not only found among students but also adults. An increase in health screening and medical interventions has resulted in a greater awareness of this group of people and is thus important (Appelgren et al., 2018). It is not always easy to know whether a person has a learning disability or not. Therefore, it is the role of Learning disability nurses to monitor people to identify and detect the type of learning disability that a client has. Although psychologists are the primary experts who should place what disability one is suffering from, nurses should too be on the lookout. Some patients are brought to Learning Disability nurses without proper categorization of the problem, and nurses should place them in one of the seven categories. Some common disabilities nurses should be keen to detect include dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, visual perceptual deficit, and non-verbal learning disabilities.

Once a learning disability nurse has identified the type of disability affecting their client, it is their role to decide on the what, who, how, and when they should take action on their client. This role can be called planning, and various tools can help an LD nurse in it. One of the most popular planning tools the nurse could use is the SWOT analysis. The nurse should look at the patient’s strengths and seek to maximize them. They should then consider their weaknesses and have them or their impacts minimized. Any opportunities identified should then be looked at in the planning stage, and lastly, any threats must be known and mitigation measures, if any, taken as early as possible.

It is also the role of learning disability nurses to ensure that ethical procedures are respected. Nurses are often placed in situations where they are expected to be agents of patients, physicians, and the organization simultaneously, all of which have conflicting needs, wants, and goals (Marquis & Huston, 2021). It is thus the role of every nurse to observe ethical frameworks for decision-making. To achieve this, the LD nurse must first make sure that they use the utilitarian approach. This means they should ensure that the procedure they use reaches the greatest number of people while maximizing the utility given to every client. In ensuring they adhere to the legal framework, the nurses should ensure that their method is deontological. This means that their duty in performing LD nursing should not overlap with certain unethical and illegal fields. The framework adopted by these experts must also be intuitionistic, meaning it weighed separately for each individual and situation.

In addition to nurses ensuring that they are compliant with ethical standards, it is also their role to ensure all mandatory legal and legislative issues are observed. LD nurses should have a fine grip on the law in their practice and understand where such legislation is sourced from. Some common sources in LD nurses’ role in looking deep into include the constitution, administrative agencies’ rules, and regulations, various statutes or legislative laws, and previous court rulings. While dealing with intellectually disabled individuals, all nurses must make sure that their services are done with due care. It should be the role of the LD nurse to ensure that their patient attends all sessions.

Another critical role LD nurses have that of advocacy. This is where the nurse offers all achievable support to ensure that the client lives a fulfilling and self-actualizing life. In their book “Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing” Marquis and Houston (2021) quote that nurses may act as advocates by helping others make informed decisions, acting as an intermediary in the environment, or intervening on behalf of their clients. This role is intuitive and can be hard to teach nurses how to perform it. Some nurses maximize this role by setting frames that will help the intellectually challenged easily fit into the community setting by guiding them on various social skills. Some nurses, instead of focusing on the patient, go and meet with the client’s family and friends where they equip with basic but crucial skills and knowledge on how to deal with a Learning-disabled victim and what to expect.

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Most people with learning disabilities live a life dependent on others. It should be of critical importance to their nurse that they ensure they take appropriate measures in ensuring that their clients can live independently from their guardians. The nurse should seek all ends to ensure that the client has a means of gaining financial independence. It should also be the role of the nurse to guide the client on how they can be able to make decisions on themselves or, be it with a little guidance. This independence can be achieved by first ensuring that the person’s physical health is maintained and any necessary medication is properly administered and taken. Second, the patient’s mental health must be improved or maintained by administering the required medication and the help of phycologists being administered whenever needed.

Types of Care a Nurse May Provide to the Person in the Scenario

A learning disability nurse may provide care in the case study by offering support to the mother of the victim on the importance of letting them attend the day service. People with learning disabilities will need support from primary care professionals to understand information about their health and care needs (Norman, 2021). Rachael’s mother is prejudiced to think that having her daughter go to the day service will fall sick, and not attending may even be more dangerous. As a Community Learning Disability Nurse, one would be expected to ensure that four-day service a week is adhered to unless there is sufficient evidence to show it has disadvantages.

The nurse should demonstrate empathy while talking to Rachel and seek to gain a middle ground for her going to the hospital and going out to meet her friends. While both are important, going to the hospital should come first, and the LD nurse should demonstrate strategic communication skills while dealing with her. Forbidding Rachel to go to the day center is discriminatory against a person’s freedom of movement and could result in legal violations. The nurse should conduct a SWOT analysis and identify what is preferable between having Rachael keep going to the hospital or letting her see her friends. Compliance, defined as the will to develop and consent to the wishes of another person, should be a major consideration (Molina-Mula & Gallo-Estrada, 2020). After giving her all the necessary advice, however, the LD nurse should let her make the final choice.


The work of an LD nurse is wider in scope as compared to that done by other nurses. In this profession, the nurse must be willing to see the bigger picture and put all matters including social ones into consideration. Since the nurse has to deal with the client, their family, and friends they should deploy strategic communication skills and professional due care in dealing with them. LD nurses should detect where the problem is, mitigate the problem and ensure ethical and legal issues are followed. More importantly, nurses should ensure that their clients live happy independent productive lives.


Appelgren, M., Bahtsevani, C., Persson, K., & Borglin, G. (2018). Nurses’ experiences of caring for patients with intellectual developmental disorders: A systematic review using a meta-ethnographic approach – BMC nursing. BioMed Central. Web.

Jaques, H., Lewis, P., O’Reilly, K., Wiese, M., & Wilson, N. J. (2018). Understanding the contemporary role of the Intellectual Disability Nurse: A review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(21-22), 3858–3871. Web.

Marquis, B. L., & Huston, C. J. (2021). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application. (10th ed). Wolters Kluwer.

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Molina-Mula, J., & Gallo-Estrada, J. (2020). Impact of nurse-patient relationship on quality of care and patient autonomy in decision-making. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3), 835. Web.

Norman, A. (2021). Providing support to people with learning disabilities in primary care. Nursing in Practice. Web.

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