It’s been a century already

Posted: 09/04/19

Thank you for 100 years of learning disability nursing.

Staff from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), a provider of mental health and disability services are celebrating a century of learning disability nursing.

In 1914, Prudhoe Hall Colony was purchased by Northern Counties Joint Poor Law Committee, as a joint venture in response to the requirement of the Mental Deficiency Act 1913 where each county had to make specialist provision.

In 1919, the UKs first learning disability nurses were registered as mental deficiency nurses, a term which was used until after world war two. In the 1990s, learning disability nursing was accepted, a term which is still used now.

A national survey carried out in 1919, identified that in Northumberland there were 350 people diagnosed with a learning disability. In 1928, Northumberland County Council made the decision to build a new institution for 280 people on the Northgate site. On 23 February 1938, St Andrew’s Colony opened its doors for adult admissions with consideration being given to young people in September 1938.

Both the hospitals at Northgate and Prudhoe have been interlinked throughout their history, but in time each site developed a different service profile due to clinical demands. Prudhoe focused on children and adolescents, and Northgate focused on forensic and autism. In 1994, the two hospitals successfully merged to become Northgate and Prudhoe NHS Trust.

Over the years the services have seen many changes and have continued to strive to deliver high quality person centred care to patients, the focus of care has changed from hospital based to supporting people in their own homes, however if required specialist services are available to assess, treat and facilitate discharge our bed based services at Northgate were inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and were rated as outstanding and as a profession we are very proud of this.

Today our learning disability nurses work to the ethos of providing co-produced specialist healthcare and support to people with a learning disability, as well as their families and staff teams, to help them live a fulfilling life.

Thank you to all our learning disability nurses and here’s to the next 100 years of high quality care delivered by specialist nurses in the field of learning disability.

We currently have a number of nurse vacancies including RGN, mental health and learning disability nurses to work particularly within Walkergate Park Hospital and across the organisation. To find out more please visit our website at careers.

Have you ever worked as a learning disability nurse in our area or know someone who has? Would you like to share your story of life as a learning disability nurse then why not contact us at communications, we’d love to hear from you.