A LEARNING disability nurse from Widnes is the first to be employed exclusively in the emergency department at Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

The learning disability liaison team identified a need to have a specialised nursing role within the emergency department for those patients with learning disabilities attending A&E, and offered 26-year-old Lauren Johnston the job.

Lauren had previously worked within the Trust for six months as a student nurse whilst studying her learning disability nursing degree at Edge Hill University.

It was during this time that the opportunity came up to develop this new role.

From a young age, Lauren has been around individuals with learning disabilities.

Her parents were both respite carers for children with learning disabilities, and her mum has worked in a special needs school for nearly 40 years. As a result of this, she knows all too well the barriers that individuals can face in environments such as hospital.

Lauren said: "Coming into hospital for anyone can be a daunting experience, let alone for patients with learning disabilities or autism who can find the loudness and busyness of an emergency department overwhelming.

"We see lots of patients, ranging from those who live independently, to those who require full support 24 hours a day, who all can benefit from the support of our liaison team when admitted into hospital."

Working in the Royal, Lauren particularly enjoys the fact that every day is different, and she in a position where during what can be a very difficult time for patients, she is able to build vital relationships to support them and their families.

“Working in the emergency department, I have developed working relationships with a range of staff who are all keen to ensure patients with learning disabilities have a positive hospital experience.

"Staff members now feel able to come up and ask for support and guidance on how best to care for patients with learning disabilities and autism.

"This new role means my colleagues can focus on a patient’s physical health needs and I’m able to focus on their learning disability needs.

"Together we can offer a more complete package - a prime example of teamwork with quality care for the patient at the heart of it."

Shaun Lever, dementia and learning disability lead at the trust, said: "Our aim is to reduce the length of stay for those with learning disabilities in hospital, and enhance their experience.

"The award-winning learning disability liaison team at the Royal have been trailblazers within Merseyside and Cheshire for supporting patients in hospital with learning disabilities, with many of their practices now adopted by other trusts.

“Through the fantastic work of our team, there have already been a large number of patients where their stay has been reduced significantly.

It's important that all our patients get the right care – and that includes the moment they walk in the door in somewhere like the emergency department."