NAC consults, learns from and works with collaborators and contributors from various backgrounds, including those with personal lived experience and professionals from the fields of:
- Learning and intellectual disabilities
- Mental health
- Behaviour specialists
- Psychiatry and medicine
Dr Julie Calveley
Some years ago a sequence of events led me to experience emotional and psychological suffering and that put my mental health at risk. I blamed myself and suffered from anxiety levels that I felt were sometimes unbearable. I went to the doctors and was prescribed medication. I am not anti-medication, and believe that it may be an important part of mental health treatment and recovery, but I felt that it was not the answer for me, as what I was feeling was in some ways a normal reaction to what was going on around me. I therefore wanted to find natural ways to cope and get through it. The first step of this search was to read. I have always turned to books and sought knowledge to deal with problems and I remember that at night, when I could not sleep and felt utterly dreadful the only thing that offered me a little comfort was a book by Michael Singer called ‘The Untethered Soul, The Journey Beyond Yourself’. I think the reason the book gave me comfort was because it gave me hope.
My career and personal interest in self-development had drawn my attention to the work of neuroscientists on mindfulness. I made what was, for me, an important and life changing decision to embark on a six week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) self-directed course, created by Jon Kabat-Zinn that I could access, free of charge on my smartphone. I committed to the hour a day practice the programme called for and, although it was not easy to find this time, my mental health was so much at risk that I had to prioritise it. Slowly but surely, and with the crucial support of many of my family and friends, I started not to feel so awful. At first, I progressed to a place where I felt I could cope and get through the day, and some months later to being able to enjoy the simplest of activities in a way that I had never been able to before.
Years on, life can still be a challenge and not without struggle. However, when life is good, it is really good because I have a deeper capacity to be present and enjoy the moment, rather than thinking about what I did yesterday or what I need to do next. When things get tough, I have a collection of simple things I can do to help me cope, some of which I can carry out in just a few seconds or minutes. Having a variety of tools is necessary for me because what works one day may not be what I need the next. My tool collection continues to be developed and refined as I continue to learn about various strategies, and more about myself.
My personal journey has been highly influential in the conception and development of NAC. Experiencing first-hand how powerful such simple activities as focusing on my breath, creating a deeper awareness of and presence in nature, becoming more attuned to what is happening in my body and valuing creativity as an important and necessary part of my life drives me to want to help others benefit too. As a scientist as well as a nurse, it is important to me that these strategies, many of which are based on ancient traditions and practices, are now are firmly backed by science.
Julie's personal influences and teachers
As well as my family and friends, I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their teaching and inspiration.
- Rosie Cozens-Lewis
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Ekhart Tolle
- Daniel Siegel
- Adriene Mishler
- Bessel Van Der Kolk
- Dave Hewett
- Bob Gates
Feel free to get in touch with me
Qualifications, roles and memberships
- Phd and BSc in Learning Disabilities Nursing
- Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council as a Learning Disabilities Nurse (RNLD)
- Member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
- Post Graduate Diploma in Research Methods modules
- BSc (Hons) in Psychology
- Freelance Learning Disabilities and Autism consultant since 2010
- Visiting lecturer at the University of South Wales
- LeDeR (Learning Disabilities Mortality Review) Programme Reviewer
- Associate Trainer for the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD)
- Associate of the Intensive Interaction Institute
- Volunteer for Sense Adventures
- Freelance Team Member for Blake Emergency Services
- Respite carer
- Practice Development Coordinator for Mencap
- Community Learning Disability Nurse
Papers and publications - Julie Calveley (nee Clark)
Clark, J (2005) Including People with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities in Research: Ethics and Consent. Paper presented at The TVU Global Research Conference, 22 September, Ealing, London.
Clark, J. (2006) Providing Intimate Care: The views and values of carers. Learning Disability Practice, 9(3), 10-15.
Clark, J. (2006) Intimate Care: Theory, research and practice. Learning Disability Practice, 9(10), 12-17.
Clark, J and Gates, B. (2006) Care Planning and Delivery for People with Profound Intellectual Disabilities and Complex Needs. In B. Gates (Ed.) Care Planning and Delivery in Intellectual Disability Nursing. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Clark, J. (2007) Positive Images Feature: Two Left Feet. Learning Disability Practice, 10(4), 22-23.
Clark, J. (2007) The Implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for Research with Adults who Lack Capacity to Consent. Paper presented at The Royal College of Nursing 2007 International Research Conference, 1-4 May, Dundee, Scotland.
Clark, J. (2007) Intimate Care in the Lives of People with Severe Intellectual Disabilities. Paper Presented at the Dignity Conference, Thames Valley University, London.
Clark, J. (2008) Privacy and Dignity: Research findings from a study of intimate care in the lives of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Paper presented at The Association for Continence Advice Annual Conference, 13-14 May, Glasgow, Scotland.
Clark, J. (2008) Intimate Care in the Lives of People with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disabilities: A qualitative study. Unpublished Thesis: University of West London, formerly Thames Valley University.
Clark, J. (2009) Providing Intimate Continence Care for People with Learning Disabilities. Nursing Times, 105(6), 26-28.
Clark, J. (2009) Two Left Feet. Interconnection Quarterly Journal, 2(5), 28-30.
Clark, J. (2010) Defining the Concept of Dignity and Developing a Model to Promote its Use in Practice. Nursing Times, 106(20), 16-19.
Calveley, J. (2012) Including Adults with Intellectual Disabilities who Lack Capacity in Research. Nursing Ethics, 19(4), 558-567.
Calveley, J. (2013) How are People with PMLD affected by Dignity. PMLD Link 25(2) Issue 75.
Calveley, J. (2015) Sibling Experiences of Circles of Support and Person Centred Planning. PMLD Link 27(1) Issue 80.
Calveley, J. (2016) Intensive Interaction: More than just imitation. Paper presented at the Intensive Interaction Institute Conference, 2 June, Glasgow, Scotland.
Calveley, J. (2017) Gaining the Power of Initiation Through Intensive Interaction. Learning Disability Practice, 20(1), 19-23.
Calveley, J. (2017) Managing Incidents of Challenging Behaviour and Working Towards Having Fewer of Them. Paper presented at the Medical Behaviour Support Service ASD Conference on 7 April, Welshpool, UK.
Calveley, J. (2018) The Intensive Interaction Outcomes Reporter. In Hewett, D. (Ed.) The Intensive Interaction Handbook, 2nd Edition. London: Sage.
Calveley, J. (2018) Intensive Interaction and Complex Health Needs: Tuning-in, the cornerstone of effective practice. PMLD Link, 2018 Summer Edition.
Calveley, J. (2018) Communication and Intensive Interaction: The use of video for training, observation, reflection and identifying outcomes and progress. Workshop delivered at the Raising the Bar II PMLD National Conference, 2nd November: Birmingham University.
Calveley, J. (2019) Contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Learning and Intellectual Disability Nursing, Second Edition. O. Barr and B. Gates (Eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hewett, D., Calveley, J., McKim, J. and Mourière, A. (2019) Communication, Human Rights and Intensive Interaction. PMLD Link, 2019, Spring Edition
Calveley, J. (2020) Emotional and Mental Wellbeing – The Launch of a New Resource. PMLD Link, 2020, Winter Edition.