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Help in a crisis
Rachel's story


The skills that Rachel Petty-Cook used while working for six years as a learning disability nurse are invaluable in her current role as a PMA [Prevention of Management and Aggression] practitioner.

“I know from my experience as a learning disability nurse that people communicate in multiple ways,” said Rachel, who is based at Hellesdon Hospital and fills one of the Trust’s 13 PMA practitioner posts.

As well as teaching staff how to manage challenging situations, her role includes supporting clinical teams in West Norfolk and the Suffolk Adult Learning Disability Service in Walker Close, Ipswich.

“People are often surprised that as a PMA practitioner, I question the notion of restraint,” said Rachel. “If you reflect on why someone is behaving aggressively, you can often de-escalate them through understanding the reason for the behaviour.

“I share this knowledge with our staff caring for patients so that they can proactively manage a situation to keep everyone safe.”

Before embarking on nurse training, Rachel had worked in retail while volunteering with supporting the homeless. This led to a two-year community care course and she then worked three years for a charity which supported people with a learning disability into work.

Rachel, who is 53, qualified as a specialist learning disability nurse in 1998 at the age of 32 after three years of training at the UEA.

She then spent six years working at Little Plumstead Hospital, near Norwich, and became interested in PMA while attending a PMA course at Hellesdon Hospital and learning of a need for PMA practitioners with a background in learning disability nursing.

Her ambitions for the future are to continue supporting staff and teams as a PMA practitioner, content in the knowledge that her work is making a difference.

To read more about learning disability nursing, click here.