Dedicated nurses who support adults with learning disabilities across Plymouth have held a special celebration to mark 100 years of the profession.
Livewell Southwest’s award-winning learning disability (LD) nurses held a party as part of national events taking place throughout 2019 to celebrate the centenary of the profession.
Among the guests were staff past and present and some of their clients who have benefitted from their support over the years.
The 12 nurses are part of a wider community learning disability team, made up of therapists, speech and language therapists, behaviour advisors, support workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, supporting more than 1,500 people across the Plymouth who have a learning disability.
Angie Nugent who has received nursing support for many years said:
“The team have been helpful, kind, caring and nice to me. I’ve enjoyed sharing a cup of tea and a chat with the nurse and it’s great to have someone to share good news with.”
Roy and Ruth Butt currently receive support from two nurses. Ruth said:
“They are there 100% and have helped me so much. They’ve been really good to me and have a heart of gold. They are excellent nurses and I wish there were more around. The carers in Westbourne are brilliant and hard-working.”
Roy echoed his wife’s words and said:
“The nurses have been ace and really work hard.”
Susan Bishop, group manager for the Community Learning Disability Team, said: “It was a fantastic event and a really lovely way to celebrate the work of our nurses.
“There have been a lot of changes in the way we deliver care over the past 100 years, but the emphasis has always remained to ensure that it is right and fair for our service users.
“It was lovely to bring some of our service users together with our staff and to hear everyone’s memories and experiences.”
As well as tea and cake, the team also had displays of photos from their different bases over the years and a timeline of the profession.
The day provided a lot of nostalgia for one team member in particular.
Sue Mullard, who is retiring in January 2020 after 37 years in the profession, said: “As a little girl I always wanted to be a nurse and one of the things I did after school was a year youth training scheme in a day service for people with learning disabilities and I loved it.
“I started my career at Sandhill Park Hospital just outside of Taunton in Somerset, a big institution for people with ‘mental handicap’ as it was called back then.
“I moved to Plymouth in 1989 and have worked in the community since 1992 and what a wonderful experience it has been.
“Our work is all about breaking down those barriers for people with learning disabilities and celebrating their differences.
“We don’t always see big changes in our clients but it’s the little subtle ones that really do matter.”