The aim of the project was to create a supervised professional experience placement model involving undergraduate nursing students, families of children with intellectual disabilities and nursing lecturers. Action research provided the methodological framework for developing a new placement model. Five families with children with disabilities, nine nursing students and two nurse academics worked together through the cycles of the action research process to develop a family health promotion intervention to improve the health and wellness of the family members and reduce risk for illness. Awareness, valuing and understanding were key themes derived from the qualitative data. Findings of this project indicate that this model of university-initiated, community-focused professional experience placement is effective in achieving the competency-based learning outcomes required of undergraduate nursing students and is worthy of ongoing exploration.