Student nurses attempt to set new world record for sign language

The attempt comes as part of the popular #HelloMyNameIs campaign, first started by Dr Kate Granger, which is intended to put patients at the heart of decision making.

“Learning disability nurses empower their patients to have a voice so that they have positive health care outcomes”

Paula McGowan

Over 500 people, including student nurses, academics, healthcare professionals and people with learning disabilities, as well as their family and friends, gathered at a conference in Birmingham on Friday in a bid to set a new Guinness World Record.

Delegates came together to sign the phrase ‘Hello my name is’ using Makaton.

The #HelloMyNameIs campaign calls for more compassionate care by highlighting the importance of seeing a patient as a person and putting them at the heart of decision making.

The record attempt was made at the annual Positive Choices Conference with learning disability nursing students, which was this year organised by Birmingham City University.

Despite their best efforts, delegates were just short of setting the new record.

Conference attendees travelled from across the UK to share best practise and learn from leading nursing professionals.

Among those who spoke at the event was the chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May.

Dr May attended in Birmingham before heading to the Student Nursing Times Awards in London shortly after, where she opened her speech using the same phrase in Makaton.

The conference also heard from Paula McGowan from NHS Improvement, who has dedicated her life to campaigning for better healthcare for people with autism and learning disabilities, following the death of her youngest child, Oliver.

Ms McGowan said conferences such as the one in Birmingham were “vital”, as they brought together likeminded healthcare professionals to help “further develop learning in the world of intellectual disability”.

She explained: “It gives them the opportunity to network and share best practice, what works and what doesn’t.

“Learning disability nurses are vital in leading the way in educating other practitioners in understanding what a learning disability is and how to support them in various situations,” said Ms McGowan.

“They are crucial in changing a culture that is far from inclusive,” she said. “Learning disability nurses empower their patients to have a voice so that they have positive health care outcomes.”

The established annual event was founded by registered learning disability nurse and professional lead in learning disability nursing at the University of Nottingham, Helen Laverty, who is also a member of the Nursing Times editorail advisory board.

Ms Laverty said: “I was delighted to be asked to bring the 17th Positive Choices conference to Birmingham City University as our chief nursing officer Ruth May says, there has never been a more important or rewarding time to be a learning disability nurse!”

Samantha Salmon, lecturer in learning disability nursing at Birmingham City University, added: “Positive Choices was such a valuable and inspiring conference for me as a student learning disability nurse.

“It is truly a privilege to be hosting it at the university in 2019, which coincides with 100 years of learning disability nursing,” she said.

The annual conference travels around the UK and will be held in Belfast in 2020.