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Learning disability nursing

What is a Learning Disability Nurse?

A Learning Disability Nurse supports the wellbeing and social inclusion of people with learning disabilities to reach their full potential, achieve a good quality of life, and be valued in society.

Learning Disability Nurses care for people of all ages with a learning disability and work in partnership with individuals, supporters, family and carers to provide specialist healthcare.

What do Learning Disability Nurses do?

The main areas of your role as a Learning Disability Nurse involve:

  • Improving or maintaining a person’s physical and mental health
  • Reducing barriers to them living an independent life
  • Supporting the person in living a fulfilling life
  • Advocating

Learning Disability Nurses promote individuals’ autonomy, rights, choices, and their social inclusion in the health care system.

Where do Learning Disability Nurses work?

Learning Disability nurses work in:

  • People’s own homes
  • Prisons
  • Care Homes
  • Special Schools
  • Paediatric Services
  • Forensic Services
  • Communities
  • Hospitals
  • Universities (teaching)
Is Learning Disability Nursing for me?

A Learning Disability Nurse is:

  • Caring
  • Passionate about equality
  • Person-centred
  • An advocate for others
  • Non-judgemental
  • A great communicator
  • Patient
  • Compassionate
  • Professional
What roles do Learning Disability Nurses undertake?

Learning Disability Nurses can work in the following roles:

  • Community Learning Disability Nurses
  • Behaviour Specialists
  • Specialist Epilepsy Nurses
  • Inpatient Learning Disability Nurses
  • Paediatric Learning Disability Nurses
  • Learning Disability Hospital Liaison Nurses
  • Specialist Safeguarding Nurses
  • Learning Disability Practice Development Nurse
  • Learning Disability Practitioner lecturer roles
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner roles
  • Head of Learning Disability Nursing
  • Learning Disability Nurse Consultants
  • Learning Disability Unit Nurse Director
  • Service Management roles
How much do Learning Disability Nurses earn?

In the NHS, an entry level Registered Learning Disability Nurse would start at Band 5; please see our Pay and Benefits section for more information.

What career progression opportunities are available for Learning Disability Nurses?

Once you have registered and gained some clinical experience, there are several employment options available including:

  • Clinical Lead
  • Nurse Lecturer in a university
  • Inpatient Unit/Ward Manager
  • Community Learning Disability Team Lead
  • Nurse Consultant
  • Research/Service Development Nurse
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner
  • Senior Nurse Manager
  • Welsh Government
  • Professional Body e.g. Royal College of Nursing 
How to become a learning disability nurse?

To become a learning disability nurse, you will need a degree. You won’t have to do a general nursing degree if you know you want to specialise in learning disability, you can do your degree in learning disability nursing.

How do I apply for the job?

All current NHS Wales vacancies are advertised on NHS Jobs.

Funding options for your learning disability nursing degree

In Wales, the tuition fees of nursing degrees are fully funded through the NHS Bursary. Information about eligibility and how to apply can be found at Student Awards Services.

You may also be eligible for a means-tested maintenance grant.

Where in Wales you can study learning disability nursing?
How do I get relevant experience?

If you are aged between 16 and 25, you can apply to become an RCN Nursing Cadet.

Although it will help you get onto a learning disability nursing degree if you have relevant clinical experience, this isn’t necessarily always essential.

To help you pass your interview for your learning disability nursing degree, it may help if you can demonstrate caring in any setting, including customer care. It will also help if you can demonstrate working as part of a team in any setting, and an ability to work under pressure.

Case Studies
Further Information

You can learn more about nursing in general on our Get into Nursing, and on the nursing building ( of our online platform Careersville.