NHS Careers > Explore by career > Nursing > Careers in nursing > Learning disabilities nursing

Learning disabilities nursing

Learning disability nurses provide specialist healthcare to those with a range of learning disabilities. They also offer support to their families.

Hear from learning disability nurses in our film.

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Social inclusion

Learning disability nurses aim to improve the well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability. This is achieved by:

  • improving or maintaining their physical and mental health
  • reducing barriers
  • supporting the person to pursue a fulfilling life.

For example, learning disability nurses will teach someone the skills to find work, which can be significant in helping them to lead a more independent, healthy life where they can relate to others on equal terms.

Working with people who have a learning disability is likely to be demanding and stressful at times, as progress can be slow, but satisfaction is great when someone has learned a new skill or can demonstrate new confidence in themselves thanks to your intervention.

Core skills and qualities

Sensitive human interaction is the core skill. You will need to have great patience and highly developed, flexible communication skills.

The job can be stressful and demanding so self-awareness helps. You will sometimes need to be assertive to ensure people with a learning disability do not suffer discrimination.

Find out what other skills are needed be a nurse. We also have information on the training needed and the entry requirements. You can also combine your learning disability nurse training with social work.  

Depending on experience and training, learning disability nurses can hold positions at every level of the NHS career framework.

Diverse settings

Learning disabilities nursing is provided in settings such as adult education, residential and community centres, as well as in patients' homes, workplaces and schools. You will be dealing with people of all age ranges. 

You could specialise in such areas as education, sensory disability or the management of services. If you work in a residential setting, you may do shifts to provide 24-hour care. Many learning disability nurses also work as a managers, leading teams of support staff.

Nurses specialising in learning disabilities will work as part of a team which includes, psychologists, social workers, teachers, general practitioners, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and healthcare assistants.

Try our personality quiz to see if learning disability nursing suits you.