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  4. 30 Years of learning disability nursing in England

30 Years of learning disability nursing in England

Nicky Genders
Principal Lecturer, De Montford University/PhD student

There have been some studies of the history of learning disability nursing including those by Professor Duncan Mitchell. My work looks at learning disability nursing from 1979 onwards.

I did a study recently that asked 20 learning disability nurses from across England to tell me their story of being a nurse. Most people spoke to me for over two hours telling me the stories of how they became learning disability nurses and what they did.

Their stories included:

  • why they wanted to be a learning disability nurse
  • their experiences working in large long stay hospitals
  • how they fought for change
  • where they work now.

Reading their stories I can see lots of very negative experiences and times when they weren't able to support people with a learning disability as they would have liked to. I can also see very positive examples of how the nurses have tried to work in ways that offer support and where they have learnt from people with learning disabilities.

In my presentation I would like to share some of these stories.


Nicky Genders – I have been a lecturer in learning disability nursing at De Montfort University in Leicester for many years. In addition to my teaching I have also worked on a number of projects that have focussed on parenting by people who have a learning disability. These have included a national project looking at how we can improve maternity services for women with learning disabilities and more recently a project with Heather Crozier and Sarah Morris, two community nurses from our local NHS Trust. This project is looking at how we can help support parents who have a learning disability in their parenting.

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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