An investigation into the advocacy role of the learning disability nurse

  • Penelope Llewellyn

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study explored the advocacy role of learning disability nurses. Specifically its objectives were to find out whether nurses advocate for their clients with learning difficulties and, if so, how they do this; to explore any problems which nurses have with the advocacy role and to consider their advocacy education and educational requirements in this field.

    The study adopted a mixed method approach within a grounded theory methodology, augmented by situational analyses and mapping. It took as its foundation definitions of advocacy and their advocacy needs obtained from people with learning difficulties. The definitions were considered by learning disability nurses and expanded by them. Nurses also discussed their received education in advocacy and their requirements for education, training and support in their advocacy practice. This information was incorporated into a questionnaire survey addressed to all learning disability nurses grades D-G working in NHS settings in Wales.

    Results found that the advocacy role of learning disability nurses is constantly evolving and varies according to the specific needs of their clients, their work situation, the availability of independent advocacy services and nurses' willingness to access these. It is strongly influenced by nurses' adherence to either the individual(medical) or the social model of disability. Advocating according to the latter is generally more compliant with the expressed requirements of people with learning difficulties, but nurses may be drawn towards the medical model by resource issues, the influence of their qualification period and experience, or by their perception of the nature of their clients' disabilities.

    All learning disability nurses in the study advocated for their clients and there was an awareness among nurse informants of several different levels of advocacy. Nurses were also conscious of problems which could affect their advocacy role in all but the most mundane situations. Despite this, many nurses felt they had a 'duty' to advocate for clients in the absence of any suitably trained alternative and had specific and definite requirements for ongoing education and support in their advocacy practice
    Date of AwardApr 2005
    Original languageEnglish

    Cite this