Amanda McKie outlines her role as a matron lead for learning disabilities at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
How would you describe your role to someone you’ve just met?
“I am a learning disability nurse by background. I work in the secondary care setting and use my skills to support people with a learning disability when they are in hospital. I support the nursing and medical team to meet needs, looking at communication, ensuring good understanding and application of the Mental Capacity Act and best interest process. As well as a clinical role, I provide training and education to staff. I am the strategic lead for the trust and ensure national and regional guidance is embedded into practice and policy.”
What does your typical working day look like?
“We have an alert system on our electronic patient record and this generates a report that I access several times through the day to see if anyone has been admitted. I review the records and provide support to the individual, ward and family or care team as needed. I sometimes support individuals if they need tests and investigations and need a familiar person to support them. I have been known to show them what is going to happen getting in the MRI or CT scanner. I attend best interest meetings, support with capacity assessments ensuring the individual has the right accessible information to meet their needs. I liaise with community learning disability health and social care teams as needed. Some days can be mainly meetings, and some days training.”
What made you want to become a nurse?
“I did not want to be a nurse, I wanted to work with people with learning disabilities from the age of 13. At school we had a careers advisor who helped me look at what professions I could go into. Learning disability nursing was the only registered professional qualification at the time to work with people with a learning disability. And here I am, a qualified nurse of 24 years and I would not change a thing.”
What do you enjoy most about your role?
“Meeting new people and learning every day. I love teaching too and this job gives me the opportunity to do it without marking essays.”
What attracted you to your current role?
“I always wanted a role where you could see the difference you have made to an individual. This role is the best you truly get to advocate for individuals and really make a positive impact on their experience and improve the health outcome significantly. Seeing a poorly person improve and go home is really the best feeling. It makes the difficult days – and there are a few – bearable.”
What’s been the stand-out moment in your career so far?
“I started this role in 2008 and won the trust’s Celebrating Success Awards in 2010 for multi-agency working across the health economy. It led to me applying for a few awards. The Nursing Times Awards in London was very glam, I didn’t win (amazing to be shortlisted though).”
What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?
“I would recommend having as many opportunities as possible to work in varied roles and use the learning disability nurses’ skills to work outside of the field and learn new skills. I have several student nurses who tell me every year they want my job. They will have to wait I have at least 15 years before retirement, if not more.”
Name: Amanda McKie
Job title: Matron lead for learning disabilities
Employer: Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
Salary (or range/band): 8A
Average hours worked: 37.5 – Monday to Friday 9-5 (in theory), but flexible as needed, if patient admitted early or needs additional support
Career history: Nursing team manager Marie Curie Nursing Service (2006-08); home manager, nursing home, St Anne’s Community Services (2003-06); ward sister, Barnsley Primary Care Trust (2000-03); nursing care officer, St Anne’s Community services (1999-2000), staff nurse, Huddersfield NHS Trust (1996-99)
Qualifications: Registered nurse learning disabilities, diploma in health studies, BSc Hons learning disability practice