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Help in a crisis
Stuart's story


NSFT Chief Operating Officer Stuart Richardson can still remember being told off by his ward manager for being “too friendly” with the patients shortly after qualifying as a learning disability nurse in 1993.

At the time, he was working in a large institution in Yorkshire, which had once been a workhouse, where patients were not allowed their own belongings, including clothes. Some patients had lived there all their lives.

Stuart, who later gained a degree in learning disability studies while working as an LD nurse in the community, described that early period of his career as a “hard time” and welcomes the progress that has been made since.

“I’m pleased that we’ve moved away from a medical model to one where multidisciplinary teams care for people with a learning disability, and that we’ve advanced from advocacy to self-advocacy where service users and patients have more of a voice,” he said.

“I’m proud that our Trust has successfully implemented the Green Light Toolkit, which many other organisations have struggled with, thanks to colleagues like Sue Bridges and Dawn Collins.

“Learning disability nurses are trained to support the whole person, so it is no surprise to me that so many of our staff who qualified as RNLDs are now working so successfully in mental health, as well as in LD services.”

After leaving sixth-form and before embarking on nurse training, Stuart was a support worker for people with a learning disability at a care home in Norfolk.

“I hate inequalities and I wanted to support people who were disadvantaged and had few opportunities in life,” he said.

“The fact that the smallest thing could make such a big difference, such as by allowing a service user decide what they want to eat or drink, or how they spend the day, was very satisfying.”

Although Stuart has spent his entire professional life supporting people with LD to various degrees, he says that is his current role he misses the clinical work and the day-to-day contact with service users and families.

To read more about learning disability nursing, click here.