A very special Learning Disability Nurse asks: Who Do You See?

Helen Laverty is one of those women you thank your lucky stars to have in your life.

She is a compassionate Learning Disability nurse, a dedicated professional lead in learning disability nursing at the University of Nottingham and facilitator of the largest LD nursing conference in the UK Positive Choices. More than that she is a powerful advocate for change and works hard to draw those with a learning disability, their families and the medical profession closer together, for, as one of her sayings goes, "Together we are better."

Despite her second motto being 'unicorns and fairies!" a phrase to repeat to help us through those more challenging and emotional times, Helen is one feisty, strong and determined woman. I am very proud to have met her and to work alongside her as a parent and I would like to showcase a poem written by Helen today. In the midst of much media discussion about a 'person's worth', 'compatibility with life' and ante-natal screening and terminations as a kind of 'early euthanasia', I found Who Do You See? to be so very poignant.

The piece was penned with siblings several years ago when Helen was working on the 'Hello This is Me' model of partnership care for respite. It encourages new nurses to think about the whole person they are caring for.

who do you see

Who do you see?

Who do you see when you walk through the door?
When you've hung up your coat
Said 'hello' to the cat
Accepted a coffee
And heard me scream?

Who do you see when you enter my room?
After tapping the door (a rule to be obeyed)
And fixing your grin
And seen the mess
Who do you see?

Who do you see when you sit down for lunch?
And extolling the virtues
Start spooning the slop into my mouth
And I spit it back
Who do you see

What do you see when I start to giggle
And my body twists up
And I snort and sniffle
Who do you see when I shout and I'm happy
With my arms waving and my legs thrashing
Who do you see?

Who do you know at the end of my visit?
When you've read my case notes
And listened to the care staff
And heard for yourself the row I can make?
And written a review?

And think that you can care for me?
Just ask yourself the question
But do you know me?

Respite book by Helen Laverty
Respite book by Helen Laverty

Ref. Laverty, H & Reet M (2001) Planning care for children in Respite settings: "Hello! This is me!" Jessica Kingsley

Hayley Newman
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