Friday, 29 March 2013

Positive Choices 2013: Amazing, Inspirational and Motivational

Last Thursday and Friday 21-22 March 2013 Lancaster campus hosted a national, annual conference for learning disability nursing students from the UK and Eire. In total 450 delegates attended both days of the Positive Choices: Positive Voices Conference 2013. The two day programme included a key note speaker Professor Marcia Van Riper from North Carolina who presented her work on her 30 years of research working with families with Down Syndrome children.

The whole experience was dynamic and presentations started reflecting on a perspective of the past, developing this theme to consider echoes of the past in current practices. One presentation to explore this in depth was by some members of the Theatre forum group who gave us all something to think about with a simple scenario focusing on a ‘cup of tea’.

Dr Ben Thomas from the Department of Health spoke of the importance of the 6 C’s to the development of learning disability nursing. A variety of students gave presentations highlighting some excellent innovative practice and thinking, giving great hope for the future of the profession.

A perspective from practice was shared focusing on ‘working with people with learning disabilities in prison’. Since the presentation, there has been some great advances regarding this work, and David Hanson MP has agreed to bring the matter up in the Houses of Parliament as an issue which needs to be addressed. You can view discussions by looking for #pc2013 on twitter.
Newly developed Nursing Metrics from the Learning Disability Consultant Nurse Network were launched at the conference.

Also over the course of the two days, we were given the privilege to watch two performances by Performing Arts group – MiXiT! MiXiT is a group of service users and non-service users alike who do sketches and dance performances to show their beliefs, which this time was about having their voices heard. The performance was inspirational to all those who watched.

Moving toward the close of the conference, balance was achieved by the powerful stories presented by a parent of a young man with autism and learning disabilities and an Expert by Experience who joined the conference to see video footage of her receiving her Teaching Fellowship from the University of Cumbria which celebrates and recognises the good work that she had been involved in with the learning disability nursing students. The conference closed with a presentation inviting the delegates to attend next year’s Positive Choices Conference at Kingston University, London.
I want to say a big thanks to the current University of Cumbria learning disability students.  They were all given pink T-shirts with the acorn symbol reflecting the Positive Choices ethos and worked really hard to organise registration and delegate bags, support Whirlwind cafes in locations around the campus and provide support to local and national organisations who had stands at the conference.

Throughout the two days they positively represented the university and as a team of learning disability lecturers we are very proud of them. Students from all five countries were encourage to bring shoe boxes to the conference which represented bricks in a wall, which can now be seen in the Alexandra Gallery on campus.The students' reflections acknowledged the report ‘Strengthening the Commitment’ based on modernising learning disabilities nursing.