Developmental Disability Nursing

Developmental disability nursing is the care for patients with mental and physical disabilities. This field of nursing requires specialized knowledge and experience in order to care for patients with developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities can be caused by genetic conditions, accidents, and infections. The developmental disability patients’ mental or physical impairments hinder their major life activities, including communication, learning, mobility, and self-care. As a result of these limitations, developmental disability patients and families need extensive support and specialized resources. The developmental disability nurse usually works in a team with other professionals to help the patient and family to obtain as normal as a life as possible.

Developmental disability refers to a wide range of cognitive problems. These include learning disabilities, mental retardation, autism, Ausperger’s Syndrome, and many others. The patient’s intellectual and physical impairments require them to rely on a developmental disability nurse for a wide range of needs.

The roles of the developmental disability nurse include education, screening and assessments of common health care problems, research, case management, maintenance of patient files, diagnosis of conditions and providing referrals and access to needed resources. Medications are monitored and administered and appropriate interventions initiated if necessary. The developmental disability nurse also attends to basic everyday tasks that patients are unable to perform for themselves. Another task is to encourage self-care. The developmental disability nurse may need to possess skills and knowledge relating to specialized equipment.

Patient advocacy is an important role and involves the support of basic rights, values and beliefs of the patient. When a patient is unable to care for themselves, it is the duty of the nurse to protect their rights. Developmental disability nursing takes place in a number of settings, including the home environment, hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.

Want to become involved in developmental disability nursing? You will need an advanced nursing degree, RN to BSN degree, or LPN to BSN degree. Or you can learn more about these programs from the University of Phoenix:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing
» Master of Science in Nursing

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