Norfolk Learning Disabilities Nurses’ project shortlisted for trio of national awards | Latest news

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Norfolk Learning Disabilities Nurses’ project shortlisted for trio of national awards

Photo of the #KeepHoLDNon team Two Learning Disabilities nurses from Norfolk who founded a supportive social media project during the COVID pandemic are celebrating the project being shortlisted for a hattrick of awards this Autumn.

The three nominations honour the work of #KeephoLDNon: a social media community established to support LD nurses and student nurses during the pandemic. The initiative was launched by Norfolk LD nurses Heidi McKay from Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust and Sue Bridges from Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with LD lecturers from Kingston University and Teesside University, amongst others.

While the hard work of frontline NHS staff gained much attention during the pandemic, the #KeephoLDNon team wanted to ensure LD nurses received equal recognition. They devised a social media plan to raise awareness about the work LD nurses and specialists do, and to lift the spirits of healthcare workers.

As well as virtual quiz nights, tea parties, and flash-mobs, the team produced a series of heart-warming videos which have amassed thousands of YouTube views. These community films have featured famous faces such as disability activist Sally Phillips, former MP Norman Lamb, and Line of Duty television star Tommy Jessop, who has Downs Syndrome. The work of Team #KeephoLDNon has also been praised by BBC Radio 2 DJ and learning disability champion Jo Whiley.

The three awards that #KeephoLDNon has been nominated for are:

  • Team of the Year at the Royal College of Nursing (RCNi) Awards (12th October)
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing accolade at the Nursing Times Awards (27th October)
  • Learning Disability Nursing category at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards (29th October)

All three awards will announce their winners in October. The Nursing Times Awards will be celebrated with an in-person event in London, which Team #KeephoLDNon will be attending, alongside NCH&C’s Director of Nursing & Quality, Carolyn Fowler, UEA’s LD Nursing Course Leader, Kirsty Henry, and a member of the NHS Choir.  

NCH&C’s Heidi Mckay expressed her delight at #KeephoLDNon’s triple shortlisting:

“It is wonderfully exciting that the work of #KeephoLDNon is being recognised by these award nominations. We wouldn’t have been shortlisted if it wasn’t for all the talented contributors, including people with learning disabilities and their supporters who have created something so beautiful and inspirational for viewers to watch and enjoy over and over again. This really does capture what learning disability nurses do well.

"I've had some amazing feedback, from people saying it came at a time when they really needed it, to someone saying it reminded them of why they became a learning disability nurse – it really took everyone's minds off lockdown.”

Sue Bridges, Independent Nurse Consultant, at NSFT NHS Trust, said:

“#KeephoLDNon has been a successful social media campaign to raise awareness of the learning disability community and support learning disability student nurses through the pandemic. To reach the final in three national awards is a huge honour of which our virtually team are incredibly proud of. We look forward to meeting for the first time later this month.”

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