Better awareness equals better health for people with disabilities
University experts have helped develop a new awareness and teaching campaign that encourages health professionals to gain a better understanding of the needs and challenges of people with a developmental disability.
The resource aims to address the massive health inequalities experienced by people with disabilities.
Dr Jane Tracy, Education Director of the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria, said people with a developmental disability were up to fifty times more likely to die before the age of fifty and up to five times more likely to have a mental illness compared to the general community, with many medical problems going un-diagnosed or under-treated.
"Chronic complex medical conditions, combined with communication and cognitive problems, means many people with a developmental disability often find it difficult to have their symptoms recognised and treated. They aren’t getting the care they need," Dr Tracy said.
"One simple solution is improving the awareness, knowledge and skills of those treating them."
The Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria, based near Monash University’s Clayton campus, has developed a learning and teaching package, Health and Disability: Partnerships in Action, which focuses on the health issues of people with disabilities. This package has been developed in conjunction with staff from the Peninsula campus. It includes six DVDs which tell the stories of six people and their families, and their personal experiences with the health system.
Launched today by Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, it will be used in the education and training of undergraduate and post graduate health professionals from medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, paramedic practice, health science, social work, dietetics and dentistry.
"One in five people in the community have some level of disability – and we as health professionals need to improve the care we provide," Dr Tracy said. "This learning package addresses that problem. We hope to develop a better awareness among medical professionals of the issues facing people with disabilities and those who support them."
"I am confident better education and improved skills will lead to better health outcomes. Health professionals will become better advocates for people with a disability, leading to a healthier better-quality life for patients and their families."
It is the first time doctors and health professionals from a wide range of disciplines have collaborated with people with disabilities to produce a digitally based learning and teaching package focused on improving the health care provided to people with disabilities of all ages.
(Soruce: Monash University : August 2008)