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Help in a crisis
Sarah's story


 

It was a fortnight’s work experience while still at school more than 20 years ago that gave Sarah Glendinning a taste for working with people with a learning disability.

Desperate to avoid an office job, she spent time at a day centre for people with cerebral palsy in Ipswich run by Scope, the national disability charity.

Three years later, at the age of 18, she embarked on RNLD nurse training, qualified three years later and spent the first 4½ years of her professional life supporting people with severe and profound learning disabilities in residential care in Haughley and East Bergholt, Suffolk.

She then qualified as an RNMH after an 18-month conversion course and worked as a community mental heath nurse, based in Ipswich, before two years ago taking up her post as a Mental Health Link Worker at GP practices in Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Leiston and Saxmundham.

“I enjoyed my work experience all those years ago because I’m interested in the lives of other people, trying to understand them and help them, and there was a focus on social inclusion and activities,” said Sarah, aged 37.

“Although most of my time is now spent in mental health, the skills I developed as a learning disability nurse, particularly around communication, patience and tolerance, make me better at my job.

“I now work with people who have mild to moderate mental health problems but when they also have a learning disability, I make sure that reasonable adjustments are made.

“For example, I refer some people for online courses or telephone therapy but this is not always appropriate for someone with LD who would benefit more from a longer, face-to-face meeting.”

Sarah takes referrals from GPs and then refers them to the most appropriate organisation, such as Wellbeing Suffolk, secondary mental health care or services provided by the voluntary sector.

She is also one of the Trust’s Green Light Champions, who support people with learning disabilities and / or autism with a mental health condition.

To read more about learning disability nursing, click here.