Thandiwe Mweso

Learning Disability Nursing BSc (Hons)

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  • Course: Learning Disability Nursing BSc (Hons)
  • Year of Study: Second year
  • Length of course: Three years

Your University Experience

Why did you decide to study at the University of Northampton?

I decided to study at the University of Northampton because it’s a well-known university situated in the East Midlands region, with excellent graduation rates both for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It offers support through various services, such as academics, access to the library, finances, work and employability, as well as physical and mental support. The University asks for feedback now and then from students to improve and make adjustments where necessary, and I also like that the campus is in walking distance of leading shops, the town and the buses. Additionally, there’s a Post Office and police station on-campus, which is easy for the students to access. The University offers a Park and Ride service, where you can park your car for free the whole day and board an UNO bus for £1 to the campus, thereby saving a few pounds.

What are your career goals/aspirations?

My goal after my graduation is to work with, support and be an advocate for people with learning disabilities, enabling them to live independent lives in a person-centred way, providing support with daily living skills and ensuring that their needs are met. Supporting them in community involvement access to college, work, social, family involvement and going on holidays will also be included in this.

How do you think your studies will help your career or personal development when you graduate?

My studies will equip me with the right skills and knowledge to be a professional nurse, enabling me to work with other healthcare providers to meet the individual’s needs allowing them to live fulfilling lives like everyone else.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree do you feel will be most useful in your future career?

Teamwork, active listening skills and effective communication skills, asking for consent and sharing of information, raising safeguarding concerns, advocating, not being judgmental, creating rapport with service users, respecting their values and treating them as individuals and upholding my values as a nurse will enable me to give the right support, as well as looking after my own wellbeing.

Your Placement

Did you complete a placement?

I’ve completed two placements so far this year and I’m left with one to do, which I’ll be starting soon.

Where did you complete your placement? Please tell us what your role was and an outline of your duties?

My previous placement was at a Resource Centre, where service users of diversity come and spend the day. Since the service users are of diversity and have different needs, my role as a student nurse was to work alongside the support workers and practice supervisor, to ensure that the service users’ needs are met in a person-centred way. This involves the service users making their drinks, activities such as cooking, colouring, crafts, indoor games, bingo, going for walks in the park, going to the library, shopping, bowling and Zumba, as well as support in organising their colleagues’ birthday parties and personal care. After the service user had left the centre, I also ensured that the settees, table and chairs were cleaned and ran the dishwasher for use the next day. In addition, I updated daily care plans and made my supervisor aware of any concerns I might have.

Please describe how your placement benefitted you?

This placement and the previous placements I did enable me to improve my skills and gain knowledge on different forms of medication administration, knowing the service users’ nutritional needs, understanding service users’ triggers and behaviours and de-escalate. In addition, my confidence and communication skills have improved how I interact with the service users and staff members to provide the proper support. I also benefited from working in multiple disciplinary teams, handovers and meetings, and sharing information.

What employability skills did you develop during your placement?

Teamwork, effective communication, collaboration, active listening, advocacy, empathy, compassion, caring, rapport and trustworthiness.

How do you think the placement helped you to gain employment after graduating?

The placement equipped me with the right skills and knowledge to gain confidence in how I communicate verbally and non-verbally with service users and other health professionals, as well as how I will present myself as a qualified nurse.

Do you have any tips on applying or getting the most benefit from your placement?

From day one, write down what your day has been like and reflect on that later. Show that you are willing to learn and ask questions about things that you don’t understand.

What advice would you give a student about to begin a placement?

Be civil and do not be involved in gossiping – remember you are there to learn. Ask as many questions as you can, be proactive and show that you are interested. Ensure that you work with your supervisor or anyone in charge of your practice. Don’t attempt to do things that you’re unsure of – be honest and seek advice and support. Be punctual and dress professionally, and remember to smile. Most of all, look after your wellbeing.

Your advice

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

It’s very enjoyable to be a Learning Disability Nurse, and every day is different. It’s changed my understanding of people with learning disabilities, in that they have got rights like anyone else. I encourage individuals to enrol as Learning Disability Nurse you won’t regret it and it will enable you to work anywhere.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

The sky’s the limit for me and I am enjoying every moment of it.