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About Learning Disabilities Jobs
People with learning disabilities are many and varied and the term ‘learning disabilities’ covers a wide range of issues. Essentially, people with learning disabilities have reduced intellectual and/or brain processing capabilities. So the issues they live with range from being unable to identify written words correctly or write them accurately through to difficulty in associating with and relating to the stimuli in their environment and retaining information, including how to behave socially and manage daily activities. There can be many causes – for example genetics, illness, trauma and brain damage - and there are people with learning difficulties across all age groups. Learning disabilities jobs are, therefore, specialised and special jobs. People with learning disabilities often also have a range of other mental or physical health conditions requiring specialised care and assistance.
All learning disabilities jobs are there to assist affected people with their individual issue or issues, help with daily living, if required, and encourage as independent a life as possible. As there are many levels or grades of learning disabilities, normally depending on how much of the brain is affected, so there are many varied learning disabilities jobs available. These include:
- Learning Disabilities Social Workers
- Learning Disabilities Home Managers, Care Managers, Care Assistants and Support Workers
- Occupational and Speech and Language Therapists
- Team Managers
- Nursing Jobs – RNLD, RMN, RGN, Staff Nurses, Assistant and Auxiliary Nurses
- Learning Mentors
Sometimes people wishing to fill a learning disabilities vacancy will study and qualify in a specific profession (for example as a social worker) and then only on exposure to learning disability work decide to specialise in that area and sometimes people know they would like to help people with learning disabilities and either apply for learning disability vacancies as a carer or assistant (receiving training on the job) or study a profession to this end (for example a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities - RNLD).
Whichever comes first, the qualification or the desire, you will have to do some training and/or studying in one of the healthcare professions, attain the knowledge and competencies associated with that profession, pass any relevant examinations and then register with the applicable body - for example, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) as a RNLD, or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a speech and language therapist.
Entry requirement for a training course will depend on which course you wish to attend. For example, a carer assistant learner disabilities job requires little academic qualifications whereas a RNLD or other degree course will require a number of GCSEs and A-levels. You will need to research which profession you wish to enter (through the professional body or the Universities and Colleges Admission Council – UCAS) to find the specific entry level requirements.
Once duly qualified and registered, there are learning difficulties jobs in both the private and public sector and they can be day and/or night jobs, temporary or permanent and full-time or part-time. They can be in the community, the person’s home, specialised schools or a care home and you can choose to work in specialised areas such as adult learning, children, autism, etc. So, NHS Primary Care Trusts, residential homes, agencies, charities, specialist schools and day centres will all have learning disabilities job vacancies as do HM Prison Services.
Depending on the learning disabilities job you are doing, typical duties could include:
- building strong relationships with your patients/clients to be able to effectively assess their individual needs
- planning care programmes and needs together with the patient, their loved ones and all the other healthcare professionals involved
- monitoring the effectiveness of implementation and recommendations and adapting as required
- assisting, or arranging assistance, where the individual needs help with daily activities whilst encouraging them to do as much as possible for themselves - this could mean help with washing, dressing, shopping, cooking, feeding, cleaning, etc.
- ensuring and assisting with mobilization and supporting and escorting them if necessary
- arranging recreational and social activities to help the client/patient with social interactions – finding friends and/or a partner
- encouraging and assisting with possible training towards employment if possible
- assisting with their administrative needs – budgeting, paying bills, writing letters, emails, smses, etc.
- monitoring medication administration (if suitably qualified)
- supervising and training more junior staff
- administrative duties such as staff rosters, leave, patient documentation, reports, etc.
- recruitment and employment of staff
- managing homes with financial, marketing, business planning and care responsibility according to the Care Quality Commissions rules and regulations
- managing and/or supervising home caring teams
- creating environments where everyone works towards providing the patient/client with the highest standard of care to enable them to enjoy the highest quality of life possible
- ensuring respect for the dignity and privacy of people in your care regardless of race, culture, gender, sexual orientation or religion and beliefs
- advocacy and campaigning for people with learning disabilities
- fundraising, if in a charity or non-profit organisation
- arranging group therapy work – for example, on managing stress, healthy living, behaviour management, etc.
- organising emergency admissions and discharges
- liaison with local community, creating awareness and support opportunities
Skills and characteristics you will need to be successful in learning disabilities jobs include:
- compassion, caring and a desire to help people with learning disabilities
- good interpersonal skills – able to build rapport quickly and put people at ease
- excellent communication skills so that you can understand a persons needs and convey your ideas effectively
- great team working ability
- emotional stability and strength of character
- patience and persistence
- a good sense of humour
- an ability to think and make effective, safe decisions quickly and under pressure
- in-depth knowledge of basic healthcare and hygiene
- an understanding of referral centres for specific needs
- an ability to understand and manage an aggressive person
- good stamina and a fair amount of physical strength
- the ability to relate well to people across all age groups and socio economic backgrounds
Learning disabilities jobs are concentrated on empowering individuals to lead the very best life possible. By influencing behaviour to help a person adapt to the lifestyle they wish to live, they can be included in society as an equal with their rights respected. All learning disabilities jobs include the patient, their loved ones and carers in all decisions and plans, striving to get the very best results possible. Whatever the work, the jobs are very rewarding, although challenging, as you will be contributing to elevating a person’s quality of life and general state of happiness.