Monthly Archives: June 2018

Unlike most branches of nursing, people with learning disabilities are not sick, neither are they in need of treatment to get well. They are just very wonderful and brave people like you and I making the best of their lives despite the physical or intellectual challenges they may have. It is fair to say that as a result, people with learning disabilities can be found within all walks of life. As a Learning Disability Nursing student, I am certainly kept busy. Monday – lectures and seminars Within a typical week I do many things, but of course I have lectures throughout the week. These are always a relaxed opportunity to learn from very experienced staff. The sessions can vary in terms of structure, content and length. They comprise mainly seminar style sessions where lecturers deliver presentations that educate us about the theoretical underpinnings required for effective practice. It is also always fun at the University and interact with other members of the cohort. They are a lively bunch of people who spice up the classes with discussions and laughter! Lectures provide the chance for us to share our experiences and interact amongst one another during sessions in a respectful way. This cross-pollination of ideas gives us the chance to expand our learning by gaining from other people’s experiences. During lectures, we are able to provide feedback about aspects of theory that are difficult to implement within the different settings we find ourselves during placements. The lecturers in turn use their knowledge and experiences to support us by providing us with helpful strategies to help us improve. Tuesday – simulation exercises and life-saving skills The University of Northampton has simulation suites where we are taught the hands-on, practical aspects of nursing. For example, we learn how to give injections and perform basic life support for adults and children using dummies. We are also taught how to carry out observations like temperature, blood pressure and check heart rates. I find these sessions extremely useful because they provide me with the chance to practice these essential skills safely. The idea of learning and practicing with dummies feels less unnerving. I would not possibly have acquired the skills by performing them first on human beings rather than dummies because of the trial and error element that can occur when acquiring new skills. Wednesday & Thursday – placements The most interesting part of the week comes during the placement. Learning disability nursing students have the privilege of being placed within very varied settings. The nature of each setting depends on where the needs of people with learning disabilities are being met. Today, I found myself sitting in the park accompanying clients alongside members of staff. And guess what we were doing? Soaking up the sunshine after another intense but rewarding day! Earlier on, I had supported the clients with their personal care as well as their nutritional and medication needs. Within the activities involved in meeting these different needs, came the chance to learn from experienced staff and to practice performing them to the high standards I was taught at university based on the regulatory expectations. Friday – developing communications skills The hard work of personalising the care I provide based on the patient’s wishes takes a lot of psychological input. Listening to and communicating with clients are both exhausting and rewarding exercises. However, nothing beats getting it just as right as the client desires. These are skills that come with the practice and exposure of being within a setting, because they cannot be simulated. Luckily, the theoretical skills provided during today’s University session keeps my communication toolbox well equipped. On different days, I perform different roles within my placement. This is in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier and may involve accompanying clients to appointments, keeping them entertained and supporting clients to perform activities that are important to them. The good news is that within the placement area, I am assigned a mentor who supports and structures my learning experience. There is also a University-linked tutor who visits the practice periodically to direct my learning and make sure all is going well. My personal academic tutor is also on hand to provide guidance. As a result I feel well supported and never pressured. The weekend – time for some ‘R & R’ Finally, my days off have become all the more precious now because of my busy schedule. I end my week relaxing with family and friends. I learnt about the value of time management, rest and reward during a session organised by the learning and development team at the University. As much as the pressures of family life and endless responsibilities weigh heavily on me as a mature student, ensuring that I strike the right balance means that I am able to fully recharge myself physically, mentally and psychologically. I enjoy watching movies, listening to music and dancing in my spare time. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! You can click this here to read the post on my uni website For more about the LD Nursing course at University of Northampton, see their website. To follow my nursing diary please click here. Written by Lauretta Ofulue

Nursing Diaries- A week in the life of a Learning Disability nursing student

Lauretta decided to use her personal experience of being mother to a child called Otito who had a learning disability (LD) to good use helping parents in a similar situation by coming to University of Northampton this year and training to become an LD nurse. She blogs about why this branch of nursing is a profession you might want to consider… Being there for people I became a student nurse out of a desire to carry on supporting people with learning disabilities and their families. Someone asked me: why Learning Disability nursing? Well, my answer was quite simple. I want to be there for that mum, dad or person who is living with very complex health needs. I want to give a voice to those people in society who are easily overlooked because they understand the world in a different way. I want to help others understand and uphold the rights of people with learning disabilities and their families. I see the care I will provide as a privilege. Families who have loved ones with learning disabilities are very protective of them because of their vulnerability. Becoming a Learning Disability nurse means that I will be trained specifically to look after people with learning disabilities. I believe it to be a position of trust that gives a family the confidence to delegate the care of their loved one to someone else who will understand the unique needs of their loved one and their family as a whole. I believe strongly that the fact that a person cannot understand or express their needs in the usual fashion does not diminish their opinion. I want to support and encourage them to make their own choices and help others learn to make adjustments to accommodate their needs. The course so far The learning environment at the University of Northampton is very friendly. There is an atmosphere of real interaction that the lecturers create during the seminars. Students are encouraged to contribute during sessions and the camaraderie among us is excellent! We are able to interact with other members of the cohort irrespective of their discipline. From the onset, the philosophy of “being brilliant” nurses is instilled in us – the sessions provide the opportunity for students to exercise their tolerance, respect and professionalism while contributing or addressing one another during sessions. I have made many friends both within learning disability nursing and the wider nursing cohort. This is also helpful because our relationships provide the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas, ask questions and sometimes just chat. The lectures are excellent. They give us the opportunity to acquire the theoretical knowledge that forms the basis for the things we see in practice. It answers many of the questions about why procedures are performed. The lecturers give us essays and assignments that encourage us to search the literature further for evidence. The interactive nature of the sessions means that we learn more. When other students ask questions, we are able to expand our understanding through contributions from different members of the cohort. It improves our critical thinking as nurses which is an essential skill all nurses have to possess. As nurses, we are taught to question what we do so that we can use the best and most up to date evidence when delivering care to our patients. We have simulation sessions. They are very helpful because they provide us with the opportunity to practice on dummies. This remote practice allows us to learn without worrying about hurting an actual person. It gives us the confidence to undertake supervised procedures while in practice. Nursing placements The nursing programme includes attendance of placement learning opportunities in different institutions. These include the NHS, schools as well as other private and voluntary sectors. There is an excellent preparatory week to ease us gradually into placement. Students are told what to expect and allowed to ask questions about their concerns. There is also the student support team who attend the sessions to reassure students and offer support. They provide links to various types of support including academic, financial and psychological support. During placements, the University links us in with lecturers who follow us in practice to provide support. They are friendly, helpful and easy to talk to. They also provide technical support for our online practice portfolio. Challenges met and tackled Mostly, this was time management. As a mature student, it can be very difficult to manage the work, life balance. At the start of the course, the University offered support for this through the learning development team and it was very helpful. We were taught about how simple things like time tabling, making notes and maximising the times we spent reading made a difference to our study. I also learnt the importance of rest, leisure and self-reward. Removal of the nursing bursary It was very sad when the announcement was made about the bursary withdrawal. However, my reason for joining the course was not material. I really wanted to earn a living by making a difference in another person’s life. As far as I was concerned, it was a little hurdle to overcome. I did not let it stop me. I came in to the course with a lot of lived experience as a parent-carer and I hoped that it would make a difference to caring for others. After my son passed away, I began supporting other families who had loved ones with learning disabilities. However, I knew that what I lacked was the theory to underpin my practice. Coming to university means that I can gain the skills needed to back up the knowledge I possess as a result of my lived experience. I also hope that my lived experience allows me to empathise easily with those that I care for in future because I too understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of care. My hope is to help transform the care that people with learning disabilities and their families get. Should I become […]

Nursing Diaries- Why I decided to become a Learning Disability nurse

Hi, my name is Sweetie and I am pleased to meet you all. It’s so much fun to be in this photo shoot outside the house and covered in leaves.. Mark took me out with mummy and I think it was really thoughtful! Haha…I imagined this would be the teddy’s vote of thanks for all the attention he got today. If you are like me, you have one silent member of the family sitting around the home. Teddy bears and soft toys? How could we ever survive our kids without them. Well this one is called “Sweetie”. Well, I will tell you how she came to be found outdoors covered in leaves and looking like a samurai. We went stone picking. Stone picking is a lovely fun family activity. These are the items you need: 1. A plastic bag for collecting the stones 2. Your fingers for picking the stones😀 3. A footpath or safe road with stones lying around 4. Lots of imagination- to save you picking clustered sand instead of stones 5. Lots of energy for fun. Oh! Did I forget to say-some good weather if you are in luck? It’s a nice activity that costs absolutely nothing but promises to be lots of fun for all the family. It can get your children all excited and give you the opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids. A note of warning though- It can get very messy because some of the most beautiful stones tend to hide in the mud🤡😂😂 But please don’t let that stop you. Stone picking must be an art. It is the process by which you let boredom push you out of your sulky corner into the streets in search of pebbles. It sounds funny but in all honesty that is simply what it is. Nothing more…nothing less. After collecting the stones, you will need some time to get them washed. I usually soak them with some soap and bleach to kill any germs and make them safe for handling. You can let them drip into an old towel and in no time, you would be ready for some fun with the kids. Today, we chose to arrange the stones into different shapes. It was so much fun. It allowed Mark use his imagination.To all the kids out there, keep having fun!! Enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you for reading

Teddy’s day out (Activity)

  Hello all you hope whisperers. Yes! I said it. Today I decided to bring you something a bit different. A little boy I know asked me what I did as my hobby. I told him that I did very many things but the one I liked most was writing. He asked me to show him something I had written so that he could read. Well, as you may have guessed, I had absolutely nothing that would interest a 6 year old. That’s why I wrote this story. At least this way, I would have something to present to this child. I enjoyed writing it. I have been overwhelmed by the response it received. He shared it with friends at school. His class teacher even asked if I could come and read it to the little ones. They knew nothing about wells, dry season, rainy season and the things that make us remember and miss Africa. It’s an absolute honour to share my culture. I hope you enjoy it and share it with your kids too. And the story begins… One day in a little village called Ketawa. There lived a man known as Yusinga. He was the Chief in Ketawa. Ketawa had only one chief and his job was to lead the village. He was a very wise chief and when the people did not know what to do, they came to him to help them solve their problems. It was very hot in Yusinga and the people were very thirsty. For many days it did not rain. Normally when it rained, the people put out their buckets and collected rain water from the roof tops. But in the dry season when it did not rain, the people would begin to suffer because there would be no other way to get water. The nearest stream was too far away. Even when they got to the stream the people of Idumika the next village would fight them because they claimed the stream as their own. The people of Ketawa were peaceful people who did not like to fight. So they would go back home and go thirsty for many days. They needed water to make their food and water to wash their hands. They also needed water to bathe themselves and help them feel cool. Water was so important but every time the rain went away in the dry season, the people suffered. One day, the chief came up with an idea to help his people have water everyday. He asked the people in the village to dig the ground in search of water. Many people thought that it was strange to look for water below the ground. But the chief was very sure that there was water beneath the ground they were standing. His clever son who learnt to read when the missionaries came to Ketawa had read it in a book. They dug out lots of earth. They dug deep and deep into the ground. They dug and dug for days until they found water below the ground. From that day on, there was always water in the well because the water below the ground came from the water table. In the rainy season, the wells were shallow because rain water that penetrated the earth made the water table rise. However, in the dry season, the water in the well was very deep because the heat made the water evaporate. To fetch water from the deep wells, the people tied very thick long ropes to buckets. When they put the buckets down into the well with the long ropes, they collected water from the well and pulled it up to the top. It was very very hard work. The little children were not allowed to fetch the water from the well because it was not safe. In the dry season, the people did not go thirsty because they still had water in the well. They used longer ropes to lower their buckets deeper into the ground in search of water. The people were very happy and took turns to collect water from the well. They lived happily ever after. Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay

The Wise Chief of Ketawa (Children’s Story)

I tell you the things I see in my mind’s eye when they are shut. I do so because I think that they make you see into me. They give you a glimpse of my true self. But when things unfold I realise that I should have been more silent. Those words should have sat within my fragile self like an egg within its shell.   I see you when I lose all control. You come to me to remind me of who I am. As I set my eyes on you all animosity fades. The bitterness I feel melts away as your presence warms my heart. The hardness that freezes my heart over is thawed by the warmth of your love.   I kiss your forehead in my mind’s eye. Within the earth I find you. I see through the roughage that enshrouds you. I recognise you even with your disguise. My spirit finds you within the tempest of my anguish.   It’s okay… It’s okay. You whisper through your hard lips of clay. I see into your spirit and the view is clear to me. As I look right into the hidden beauty encased, I hear you loudly and clearly.   It’s okay… It’s truly okay. I miss the times we used to share just you and me together. I remember them and I smile   Now you think that I am crazy. All because I act like I do. I am not crazy. I am just a boy in love. I love you more than love itself. Maybe that too is a crime… my crime. But I will not be found guilty.   There was once a time When I would not have minded where this love would lead. But now I do. Your words reveal how lonely my love for you is. In the heat of anger truth often unfolds. Within the arrows of cruel words lie the darts of reality.   I will not emburden you with the weight of a love it appears I alone hold true I take it right back into the depths of me. I will carry this love-cross alone. I see now that the love I shared with you was meant for me. The last piece of love I offered you within it lay my sanity.   Thank you for reading.

Love Shroud

knitting-1614283_640 2
This is a story about a man and his wife…. One day the wife was in their bedroom knitting a sweater for their grandchild. She had woken up very early and completed all the tasks that needed doing around their small bungalow. She made herself a cup of tea and sat by the window knitting. Well, soon, the lovely sunlight lost its rays to a thick cloud that began to form in the sky. The weather man had predicted a possibility of light showers. The woman was not disturbed. She was going to enjoy the different levels of light that were dimming and brightening the room. As long as she could see her crotchet needle, her senses would do the rest. Knitting was a hobby she had enjoyed for many years and she joked sometimes about being able to knit with her eyes closed. The only light she needed was at the start when she made the first knot. She prayed silently that her husband would be engrossed with whatever he was doing. Often times, he came in to commence his switch on activity around the house as soon as he saw the slightest darkness. She hated the lights in the daytime. Nothing beats natural light to her. However, he did it with such love and affection mostly teasing her about preserving her eyes so that she could see him when they were old and grey. Her frown and vehement requests to the contrary were always replaced by his good intentions. No No No he always said. You need the light! Well, as she sat there knitting and listening to the birdsong by her window, she could smell the green grass as her neighbour mowed the adjacent lawn. She knew she should shut the windows to avoid a bout of hay fever but she didn’t. She was sitting at a position that you only got once in a lifetime. She felt so comfortable and did not want to move from the spot where she was sitting. She had struck the perfect balance between cushion softness, hand angling and crotchet needle holding. She could feel her glasses hang off her nose at that perfect angle where it felt like it would fall off but stayed put because of the tilt she had achieved with her head. It was just a perfect knitting morning. Then suddenly, just as she dreaded, he entered the room. “Click” He switched on the light before she could even find her voice. It was too late. She exhaled the deep breath with which she meant to say “don’t turn on the light!”. Well it was done now. No use wasting her breath. As he left the room, he shut the door which she had left slightly ajar. Now the room was quiet. So quiet, she could hear her thoughts. “What’s wrong with this man?” she wondered.”I was listening to the music”. He did not even bother to ask her if she wanted the door shut. He assumed that just because she was knitting, she wanted peace and quiet. Well she did, but not in the literal sense. She wanted just enough sounds to keep her mind from drifting. She wanted the sounds from the lounge to filter in and hang above the loudness of her quiet thoughts. He just assumed… After an hour of knitting, the arrival of hunger in her belly made her jump without thinking. She needed food! Who would have thought that knitting would be such hard work? Well maybe if she did not muster all the mental strength to keep herself from drowning in her loudly quiet thoughts. As she walked into the lounge, she saw that he had set up the flower pot on the large desk in the living room. On the top of the table beneath the vase were lots of old newspapers. He had formed a bed with them and taped them down with some masking tape. He was busy painting the vase. She walked up to him and saw that he was painting the long vase with a brush with bristles as thin as her nail vanish brush. “This brush is too small” she said “I am not in a hurry’ he replied “It’s not about how long it would take to paint, its about how it would look in the end” she said “Well, I am not complaining” he replied irritatingly “Oh dear, who said you were complaining”, she retorted. “Well, you are disturbing me”, he said “What! I was only trying to help”, she replied, sounding hurt. “Well no one asked for your help”, he said “That’s really a horrible thing to say” she replied “Well, I know what I am doing!”, he said still focussing on his painting. She looked at him. She could feel herself beginning to fume. If only she could get him to listen. He always took a brash stand if he felt threatened and it always offended her. “See, I did not say that you did not know what you were doing. We all know what we are doing. However, that does not mean that there are not many ways of doing the things we know. Perhaps considering those alternatives broaden our view about how to do the things we know how to do. It can even make us question them and give us other alternatives”, she said. “Well, I know what I am doing. I don’t know why you are here disturbing me. Considering that when I came into the room and saw you knitting, I only supported and helped you. Why can’t you do the same for me?”he said. “Helped me? She said sounding alarmed. “No you did no such thing. You assumed that you helped me but you stressed me. In fact that’s why I am here to find something to eat. You switched on the light which you know I hate in the day. You shut the door and left me to drown in my thoughts. Now I […]

The man and his wife- A Story about listening

As ridiculous as it might sound, it does take a lot of courage to let go of stuff… When I say stuff, I mean things that you have, own and acquire over time. You buy some, you get given some, you steal some (not steal steal, but take when no one is watching), or you just have some. In the end, you find that you have all this stuff cluttered around you. Well for some, they are not just clutter, they are their belongings. I had a recent encounter when I stayed at a hotel on a short family break. When I walked in, my first impression was that of serenity. It was quiet both literally and paradoxically. It was a room with a luxurious looking double bed, a table from which protruded a tv stand that held what appeared to be a 40 inch flat screen. There were also some soft lightings on the ceiling. The room was free of clutter. I felt so relaxed as soon as I beheld the simple furnishings. That was when I began to imagine a world free of clutter. In fact it was an impossibility for me even though the idea was very alluring. You see, when I planned my living space, that was the idea before life happened. The entry of wife, kids, new family and friends meant that I lost that serenity. Suddenly one gift or purchase after another left my life overflowing with stuff. My walls became important display spaces for nearly every milestone on earth. I hung up pictures and paintings on every space and set up a gallery of memories with them. I agree they were lovely but that did not stop them being noisy. Please let’s not talk about the fridge. That doubled as a magnet holder and reminder. The silly capitalists with their endless sales and adverts have left my closets overflowing with shoes, clothes and other things that I can only categorise as bric-a-brac. My house now feels like that of the old lady who lived in a shoe only I am a man and my problem is not that I have too many children just that I have too much stuff. Rather than spending all this money escaping to hotels just to experience the peace and tranquility of a clutter free space, perhaps I should just declutter my stuff. That my friend, is easier said than done. Where would I start from? Each stuff that I possess contains a memory of the moment that brought it to life. I think it’s now a bit like autism if you ask me. These things are an extension of me. I can’t throw them away. I used to be able to donate them to charity. Tie them in the respective charity bags and hand them to prospective new owners. Then it did not feel like they were being thrown away. They were re-homed. I experienced the peace of knowing that they were not just being incinerated. Well that all ended when I read in a group type thing forum that they did not always end up in good condition by the time they got to the supposed charities. As a result, they got disposed off. So now, I am back to where I started. I feel like I am officially a hoarder. When I manage to relinquish ownership of stuff  I buy even more. I do not buy new stuff any more because I literally have no space for a new addition. It’s good because I save money…but not really though if I still spend it on these secret escapes. I have toyed with the idea of acquiring a new home for stuff  but you and I know that it will only worsen the problem. So yes, unlike most, I cannot have a spring clean.   Thank you for reading Photo credit Pixabay

It’s no use having a spring clean

My dear boy, All I can really say is that I miss you like crazy…. Since you left me there has been a wide hole that nothing has been able to fill. This is our first summer without you. It is so quiet that the silence of your absence in our lives is deafening. I knew you were a big character when you were here in my life and I am thankful to God that I never wasted any moment we shared. I have found myself wishing for many things but maybe she is right. I met her, I told her all my feelings. She was neutral and her neutrality gave me a safety net to express my innermost and darkest pains. Many deep rooted feelings that clutched at my heart and filled it with grief. After I spoke with her, I felt lighter and the grief seemed to have vamoosed… It was a feeling of relief, weightlessness. No longer did I bear the weight of the grief that I dragged around. I grew wings after I met her. I believed I could fly. So I began testing the wings I grew as a result of my encounter with her. No sooner had I planned and begun executing my first flight than I realised that my moves seemed to revolve back around my loss. She drew my attention to it when we met again. “Are you sure that you are not now filling the void with all these plans?”, she asked to my irritation. “NO!!!!”, I screamed. How could she even possibly feel that. It just felt like she was rubbishing the progress I felt that I was making. “You are moving too fast, you are too decisive, perhaps you need to think things through a little bit more before you commit to it”, her scrawny voice said. “OMG now she is sounding like my mother”, I thought. Sometimes I wonder why she cannot just be happy for me. Why all these irritating comments. She was becoming so negative to occupy the position I placed her in my life. I sat in silence and considered her words. Was she right? Could there be any sense in her words? She was after all on my side. You know since I was a child, I always did everything very fast. I never took too much time to make decisions or reach conclusions. The only thing that ever moved slowly in my life was pregnancy. It was the only thing I could not rush or create shortcuts for. But perhaps decisions that had to be taken post- grief needed like she said to be considered carefully. It is always a bad idea to make decisions when under stress. Grief is a very stressful time. My question today though is: How long is long enough? Will this ever be over? Will life ever be the same? The good news is that with my faith I know that I serve a good God who makes everything ok in the end. When I got home, I shook off scary whispers. I did not want anything to hold me back. For the first time in ages, I felt like I could move on. It has been so hard these past few weeks since Otito my angelboy passed away but when I woke up I thought that it was finally time to confront the big question “what next?”. What was I going to do with the rest of my life. Before becoming a parent carer, I had dreams of becoming a manager one day. A manager of businesses, people, data and all that. Bagging a degree in Economics from a prestigious university gave me a good start. Within a few years, I was climbing up the ladder. Life was good. It’s fair to say that I was living the dream. Well all that changed when I moved to England. The career dream stalled a bit-the perks of relocation. In no time, I settled nicely into a humble role at the bottom of the organisational ladder in the company that I joined (to be fair bottom sounds a bit harsh, make that the start of the ladder). Happy days… a quick maternity break and hey presto! My luck changed forever. I did not plan to have a sick child but it happened anyway. Not long afterwards I assumed the role as parent carer to my bundle of joy. I did find the obvious fact that I needed to dedicate all my time to this role very challenging for a long time. It demanded a bit more than just caring for any other child. In the end when my psychology had taken enough battering, I threw in the towel and embraced my new destiny. It was a role that I began to learn to love and enjoy. I poured my heart and soul into making everything right for my boy. I did my best to juggle his care with making our family work despite stresses. I even found some stability within the chaos. Sincerely there were times when I longed for the good old life. I even tried to venture back at different times but that too was logistically impossible. My boy was too special for any mainstream child minder to accept him for more than an hour. That’s how I saw it and as you can imagine no employer would have me for just an hour. I too could not bear the thought of putting him in danger by allowing any untrained person close to his complex health needs. In no time it was astadavista baby  to any job! As soon as he passed away I felt lost. Anyone would have thought that I would have smiled at the prospect of finally being able to go back to work. Well, that would have been the case if it was not death that had brought my previous role (as carer) to an end. Days turned into weeks, and still I did […]

So what’s next?

My fears… sometimes they lurk within the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they sit silently and I feel they are gone My fears…. sometimes they whisper doubts into my ears. My fears… sometimes I ignore them in vain because they relocate behind my ear lobes and serenade my worries. My fears… sometimes events similar to the ones that caused them occur. My fears… sometimes they  jump out of the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they pally up with new fears like new acquaintances do in a locked room. My fears… sometimes they wrestle me into a helpless battle to determine which fear to prioritise My fears… sometimes I succumb to them because I am exhausted. My fears… sometimes they make me cry because they make me do things that surprise me. My fears… sometimes, like now, I realise that they are an extension of me and my uncertainties. My fears… make me who I am. My fears… cannot be denied. My fears… are mine and not yours. My fears… sometimes they make me feel that everything is about me when it should be about you. My fears… sometimes they stop me from accepting that I am wrong. My fears… make you see me as I truly am…a human being. Thank you.

My Fears