Helen Laverty, Professional Lead Learning Disability Nursing in the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Helen has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her expertise in learning disability nursing and her pioneering work in shaping Government policy on health and social care.
A passionate advocate and supporter for those living with a learning disability, she has been influential in the education and development of more than 700 learning disability nurses at Nottingham. Alongside her academic responsibilities she founded Positive Choices — the only national network of learning disability students, academics, employers, people with a learning disability and families in the UK.
Helen first became interested in learning disabilities when on a school volunteering placement at the age of 14 and has now been a registered nurse for more than 30 years. She joined the University in 1994 as a nurse teacher and is currently the Professional Lead for Learning Disability Nursing within the School of Health Sciences.
She founded and facilitated Positive Choices in 2004 with the motto that ‘together we are better’ and as a result she has helped shape the national debate regarding health and social care for individuals with learning disabilities and their families.
Through the network Helen also delivers an annual conference on learning disability funded by her active campaigning locally and nationally. This year saw 700 delegates travel to Dublin for the event the highlight being the ambassadorship of the Time to shine graduates. Helen also works in charities such as the Down’s Heart Group, has written a book on care for children in a respite setting, and more recently has worked with the Looking Up Book Team from Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group to produce Going to tea at Grandma’s — a picture book celebrating the role that grandparents play in family life where one child has Down’s syndrome.
Just last year she was shortlisted for the RCNi Nurse Awards Learning Disability Practice Award. She is the only academic educator to ever be shortlisted for this award, testament to the impact she has on nursing practice across the UK.
Professor Joanne Lymn, Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences, said: “Helen, who describes herself as a passionate believer in ‘strictly no labels’ has spent her entire life advocating the rights of individuals with learning disability and developing a culture which promotes social inclusion at local and national levels. This honour is hugely well deserved and I am privileged to have her as a member of my School.”
Helen added: “I still don’t really have words to express how delighted and honoured I am. This award is just the icing on the cake of what has been an amazing year so far and we are only half way through!”
University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West said: “Helen has been an academic educator of learning disability nursing students for over 20 years, influencing the profession at its very roots.
“Her firm belief in equality and inclusion for all and her passion for nursing has led to her becoming an influential advocate in this field- shaping national policy and championing the rights of those with learning disabilities. This recognition is richly deserved.”
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