Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone Campus, has signed an agreement with intellectual disability support provider St Hilda’s Services to expand placement opportunities for nursing students.
The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) sets out an intent to give nursing students greater insight into community healthcare practices and values.
Ireland’s healthcare landscape has changed considerably in recent years, becoming increasingly focused on community-led care, and demand for nursing professionals with these skills is on the rise.
TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane said the partnership presents new opportunities for nursing students to have real-world learning experiences that will prepare them for the evolving needs of the healthcare sector:
“We’re delighted to formalise our partnership with St Hilda’s, which has proven beneficial to the region over many years. The significance of social engagement and broader community exposure in nursing education cannot be overstated and the strengthening of this partnership will ensure our students are equipped to meet the needs of the healthcare sector now and into the future.”
CEO of St Hilda’s Services Sheila Buckley Byrne expressed enthusiasm about cementing the partnership, anticipating mutual benefit for both institutions:
“On behalf of St Hilda’s Services, we welcome the establishment of this partnership through the signing of the memorandum of understanding today. It confirms our shared values of collaboration, inclusion and professionalism which will serve to enhance the experience of the individuals we support going forward. In this, our 60th year of service in the community, we continue to reflect and learn to become better practitioners through our engagement with TUS.”
TUS Clinical Allocations Manager Anne Cooney explained the importance of these placements, stating, “Community clinical placements are an essential component of nursing education, providing students with the opportunity to gain exposure to community nursing care and develop insight, understanding, knowledge and skills in this unique learning environment.”
“In particular, community placements in the field of intellectual disability (ID) can provide students with a unique perspective on the care of individuals with ID, as well as the opportunity to develop specialised skills in this area,” she added.
BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Nursing and BSc (Hons) in General Nursing students undergo multiple clinical placements throughout their degrees, allowing them to gain hands-on experience across a variety of healthcare settings, under supervision.
St Hilda’s Services, established in 1964 by the community, is a voluntary organisation that provides a comprehensive quality service to people with mild, moderate and severe intellectual disabilities.