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Lecturer to help students get first past the finishing line with psychological insight

Date 22.07.2019

Nursing students will get set, ready and go for extra insight into working with people who have a learning disability, thanks to a new lecturer with a non-nursing background.

Katy-Louise Payne has joined the Faculty of Health as a Learning Disability Lecturer from the University of Bath where she had been working on research projects looking into autism.

She is no stranger to Northampton, having previously worked at St. Andrew’s as a healthcare assistant and assistant psychologist.

Her interest in better understanding people who have autism comes from her family after growing up with a cousin had a form of the disorder and becoming fascinated by the challenges and successes of communicating with someone who communicates very differently to other people.

Her professional background is not nursing like her colleagues but psychology. She explained: “I’ve spent several years researching autism that looks beyond the medical way of seeing the disorders and am currently engaged on a long-running project with University of Bath and the National Crime Agency.

“My background is not quite what you’d expect to teach future learning disability nurse but there is some cross-over and when I saw the position here at the University I instantly thought it was right up my street. I was hesitant about sending the application in, but the more I thought about the things I could bring to the lecturing table for students, the closer I got to completing the form.”

Those benefits for students include further developing in LDN students a passion for evidence-based practice and encouraging them to consider research to help add to our understanding of people with autism, something that Katy-Louise and the LDN team at University of Northampton feel is of vital importance: “Students see how things happen whilst out on placement day to day, so I’m looking forward to getting a new perspective myself on these experiences and what research needs to be conducted.

“Research has influenced everything I’ve been doing up to today so to get students enthused about it is a really useful and constructive thing for them. It won’t be about plugging gaps in the literature, but actually doing purposeful research to take back into the world and change things to make life better for people with autism spectrum disorder and/or learning disability. There’s such massive value in this.”

Outside of work, Katy-Louise has been quite the athlete, having competed nationally as a heptathlete in her teens, with some success: “Although my trophy cabinet isn’t over-flowing with medals and the like, I was sixth in the country for my age-group for the discus, although my favourite event was hurdles.

“I guess the heptathlon was a random event to get into, but my coach thought I had too much energy and needed extra athletic avenues to burn some off, but I absolutely loved it. Because there were relatively few of us nationally, we became quite a close family and I still meet up with them from time to time. I miss it a bit, but I now have a new avenue to put my energies into.”

Find out more about Learning Disability Nursing at the University of Northampton.