James Ridley (known as Jim) is a Registered Nurse in the field of Learning Disabilities (RNLD) and a Senior Lecturer in Pre-Registration Nursing (Learning Disability) here at Edge Hill University.
Having worked with people since 1991, Jim started his career supporting older adults, first meeting people with a Learning Disability during a college course he was attending.
Throughout his career, Jim has worked in Healthcare (In-patient and Community), Social Care (across Residential and Day Services), Community Care and Specialist Care. He is an experienced Specialist Nurse and continues to work in areas specifically related to people with Learning Disabilities.
We asked Jim what inspired him to start working in Health and Social Care, to which he replied:
‘I wasn’t a typical sporty kid, so part of being in my school was either choosing sports or something to do with community service. This meant working with children or working in older people’s service. I chose community and went into an older people’s day service. I really enjoyed being with the people there and found that I had a lot to offer, I loved spending time with them.’
Jim shared that learning sign language designed for those who were deaf and blind became something that meant the most to him during his time at the Day Service; he was taught how to sign by an individual who herself was deaf and blind and this opened up new experiences in terms of communication and relationships.
‘I could be a part of her world. To me, it’s important to be a part of someone’s world, and support them in anything they need to do. That’s what made me realise I wanted to work with people’.
When questioned about those who inspire him, Jim expressed that the people he supports are his biggest inspiration.
‘Families I’ve met and colleagues I have worked with, regardless of their role, inspire me and that’s because they’re mainly doing what’s right for the people who are a part of their lives. For people with additional needs, it’s speaking up for them and supporting them. Advocating for people who may not have a voice, or supporting them to find their voice in all different ways.’
In the Health and Social Care sector, Jim believes that Men are breaking down barriers and stereotypes.
‘Caring is a profession. Working in Health and Social Care as a Nurse is a profession. It shouldn’t be gender biased – It’s about wanting to do the job and trying to do the job. Gender shouldn’t come into play. Being a male nurse can be difficult because you can be stigmatised and of course, this can influence people coming into the profession but it shouldn’t, because we have as much to give as anybody else.’
Jim explained that he’d like to see more male RNLD’s in the Health and Social Care sector and believes that in society, Nursing is considered a female orientated profession. Jim wants to see a shift in the belief that ‘only women can care’ and that regardless of gender, we all have something to share.
“Enabling people to see what working in Health and Social Care is all about will help people see beyond the gender bias.’
Our final question for Jim was ‘What one piece of advice would you give to a man debating entering the Health and Social Care sector?’ Jim replied:
‘Ask yourself, Why Not?
If you like a challenge and strive for a career which presents something different everyday, Health and Social Care is just that. We’re in a privileged position to help people live their lives, recover from illnesses and move forward, and you can’t take that away from working in Health and Social Care. I think that as a man working in Health and Social Care you should always be in that position of asking ‘Why Not?’
It’s worked for me.’
We’d like to thank Jim for contributing to our series of blog post interviews as part of International Men’s Day 2018.