This section is aimed at UK nurses, but may be of use to nurses in other countries
Due to the diverse nature of epilepsy, specialist nurses work across the fields of paediatric, adult and learning disability (LD) nursing. Although epilepsy is the most common neurological condition, many qualified nurses have little knowledge or experience of the condition.
The role of the adult ESN should focus on empowering those affected by epilepsy, by providing timely information, support and advice. This should take place at the point of diagnosis and throughout the trajectory of the person’s epilepsy. The ESN should assist people with epilepsy to reach the goal of self-management and independence.
The ESN is pivotal in providing a greater understanding of the condition and adopting a holistic, collaborative and co-ordinated approach that can help reduce the impact of epilepsy on the individual and their family. The role requires the ESN to be an expert resource to all involved in epilepsy care. This results in the ESN becoming a consultant in evidence-based epilepsy care, education and research.
The role of the ESN varies according to the local environment, the length of time an individual has been in post, their clinical skills and education. For over 20 years adult epilepsy specialist nurses (ESNs) have been involved in managing and supporting people with epilepsy. Despite this long association there are currently no guidelines for employers or stakeholders about the entry experience or qualifications needed by a nurse recruited to an adult ESN post. However, the Adult ESN Competency Framework sets out the educational and professional criteria for nurses wishing to undertake the adult ESN role.
Additionally, the Adult ESN Competency Framework provides the opportunity for the ESN and the employer to agree a professional development plan (PDP). This plan will assist and evidence the ESN’s passage from Specialist Novice Nurse to Competent ESN and finally to Expert Specialist Nurse safely. The framework is applicable to all nurses working in epilepsy in the UK and is underpinned by the core competencies of;
- Expert practice
- Practice development
- Lifelong learning
It is expected that anyone undertaking a specialist nursing role for adults with epilepsy will be a registered nurse on the adult or LD NMC register and will have a minimum of five years, post-registration clinical experience in a relevant area of practice. Nurses applying for ESN roles may have many of the essential management, teaching, education and research skills to enable them to work at a specialist level but they may lack specific epilepsy knowledge.
Some nurses may enter the adult ESN role at a novice specialist level in some aspects of the Adult ESN Competency Framework. However it is recommended that they should be practising at competent or expert specialist level in other areas. The criteria for novice/advanced beginner stage is up to two years from taking up post, working at first-degree level and the authors suggest Agenda for Change band 6.