Hannah Brookes is the ICS' Local Area Contact and Senior Lead for the LeDeR Programme and Health Inequalities Senior Manager – Learning Disability and Autism Programme. Hannah's passion for helping people with learning disabilities started at a younger age and she started her career as a learning disability nursing, before moving to the voluntatry sector and then back to the health sector. Hannah tells us about her varied career as part of Learning Disability Nurses Day 2023.
"With both of my parents being nurses, it was no surprise when I went into the nursing profession. My passion for supporting individuals with a learning disability however started from a young age due to the wonderful memories I have of my parents’ roles as foster parents, most memorably with a child with foetal alcohol syndrome who we cared for three years.
"After I started teaching music in a secure hospital at the age of 19, I was hooked, and I commenced my learning disability nursing journey at the University of East Anglia in 2005 where I achieved a first class BSc (hons) in learning disability nursing.
"I began my clinical career within residential and secure hospital environments, and this taught me a lot about how best to support people with a range of needs and requirements. However, after seven years I decided I was ready for a change, and I accepted a role in the voluntary sector as a Registered Service Manager. This was a wonderful experience as I was given an office and a budget and had to build every element of the service from the ground up, which by the time I left provided respite short breaks to 147 families.
"I was then offered a role within the local branch as their Head of Services. In this role I was accountable for the safe delivery of a range of children and family services and an adult day centre. Whilst in this role, I secured several bids which enabled me to introduce a range of new specialist services, including the introduction of youth services. One of the things I loved about working in the voluntary sector is that if we had an idea, we could quickly turn it in to a reality by me searching for the right bid or arranging fundraising events.
"I left this role after having my eldest son, where I then continued to offer training and consultancy to my previous role in a freelance capacity. This gave me the idea for Disability Training and Consultancy Services, which I ran as an independent sole trader. In this role, I predominately delivered training, conducted audits and investigations, and provided consultancy and support. This was a wonderful opportunity to work with a wide number of wonderful organisations across health, education, and social care, but also with other organisations that wanted to expand their knowledge and understanding of learning disabilities.
"Whilst undertaking this role, one of the organisations I supported offered me a permanent position, and after working my way up, I ended up as the Group Head of Quality Assurance and Investigations/Clinical Nurse Advisor. This role was incredibility varied as I led governance and patient safety across a hospital, several residential homes, and a respite service.
"After having my second son I returned to my freelance role, where my passion for health inequalities really came to life. This led me to undertake a part-time role as a LeDeR Senior Reviewer, before finally starting my current ICB role I have now as the Local Area Contact and Senior Lead for LeDeR and Health Inequalities Senior Manager – LD and Autism Programme. Alongside this, I also started off back where it all began as a Lecturer in Health Sciences at the UEA, where I also then undertook a PGCE in Higher Education.
"Working on the LeDeR programme is a perfect fit for me, as it is the largest service improvement programme of its kind and enables me to utilise a wide range of my skills and interests. The programme reviews the lives and deaths of individuals with a learning disability and autistic people and captures learning around positive practice and areas for improvement. It is my absolute privilege to be part of this programme, as it enables me to advocate for improved care for a group of individuals that I owe my working career to."