PhD Research

Maria Anderton, Health Manager, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

“My project is called “Researching person-centred nursing support together”. It is a participatory action research study involving a group of people with learning disabilities from a local Further Education College and a separate group of learning disability nurses as researchers. In this project the groups will be supported to participate in all aspects of the research process. This is important research as both people with learning disabilities and learning disability nurses rarely undertake research and studies by them are few in research literature. Also person centred support is a key driver for nursing but it is a concept that is not well defined and has yet to be defined by people with learning disabilities.

I was driven by practice to do a research degree. My research question started with me questioning practice…” What is person-centred nursing support?” and as I am a full time practitioner I felt that the framework of a research degree would provide me with the support to conduct research as I was not confident that I was experienced enough as a researcher to do this without support.

The research degree has enabled me to link with other researchers and create a network of peer support, it has also linked me with structured support that has assisted me in developing knowledge and skills that I need to undertake research and also to support my co- researchers to do research alongside me.”


Stacey Rees, Community Nurse, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

“My research study is looking at the how the community learning disability nurse supports adults with learning disabilities in Wales to access secondary healthcare. It has been clearly evidenced that people with learning disabilities have poorer physical and mental health needs than the general population (Heslop et al 2013, Mencap 2007). Some of these health inequalities relate to the barriers that people with learning disabilities experience when accessing health care and health screening services. In light of these health inequalities Local Health Boards (LHBs) within Wales have taken different approaches to seeking to promote better access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities and community learning disability nurses play an important role in taking this agenda forward.

However, there is a lack of research around the role of the community learning disability nurse in terms of supporting adults with learning disabilities to meet their physical health needs and this is why I believe my research is needed. I hope that it will influence policy, practice and professional education and that by doing this it will help to improve access to healthcare for adults with learning disabilities.

As a practising Community Learning Disability Nurse, I am aware of the difference that coordinated joined up services can make for people with learning disabilities and their families when accessing acute healthcare. I believe that my research raise awareness of the health liaison/facilitation role of community learning disability nurses that is so very much needed for people with learning disabilities.”


Shirley McMillan, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Toronto

“My project is using Charmaz’s grounded theory approach to explore how community nurses support individuals with intellectual disabilities who exhibit challenging behaviour. The participants for this study were from Wales and Ontario, Canada which is important as previously there has not been an international comparative study in this field of nursing.

I wanted to do a research degree as I feel it is important to continue to add to the research in the field of learning disabilities and specifically in relation to nursing. This project, I am hoping, will raise the profile of community nurses in Ontario and promote a better understanding of the role of the nurse.


Zoe Hodges, Social worker and PhD student

As a social worker I know that decisions are made every day – including decisions about how to respond to the abuse of adults with a learning disability. My research explores how community learning disability nurses and social workers working in community support teams for people with learning disabilities identify and respond to abuse. Above all, my research examines the moment at which nurses and social workers say “I think that this is abuse and it’s not OK” and what contributes to their decision making when reaching this point. Research is an opportunity to ask questions about a situation to understand it better – but perhaps I’m just nosy!


Edward Oloidi, full time PhD student

People with learning disabilities may wish to develop personal and sexual relationships but sometimes the attitudes and beliefs of others may prevent them. In addition they may require support from others such as social care staff but if these staff feel unsure or unable about providing this support then this may limit their opportunities to engage in personal and sexual relationships. My study is, therefore, looking at how public perceptions of personal and sexual relationships among people with learning disabilities might influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of social care workers who support them. I believe that it important that we understand the needs of social care workers better so that people with learning disabilities can be provided with better support in relation to personal and sexual relationships.