Did you know that people with an intellectual disability have a life expectancy 26 years less than the general population? The health system does not always work well for people with disability, so we’re developing resources to become part of the solution.

Michael Sullivan and Julian Trollor

 Council for Intellectual Disability Chairperson Michael Sullivan with UNSW Professor Julian Trollor.

A research study has revealed that people with an intellectual disability have an average life expectancy of 54 years, 26 years shorter than that of the general population. According to the study’s author, Professor Julian Trollor, "health services are rarely equipped to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and… health professionals are rarely trained in this area."

But the study also showed that people with intellectual disability often have difficulty communicating about and engaging in their healthcare needs: "People with an intellectual disability will often experience communication difficulties in consultations,” Professor Trollor notes. “Often a person with disability struggles to be enabled to be part of the conversation, struggles to be included in decisions around healthcare, and struggles to communicate their health care needs to the person they are seeing."

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce that we are working on two new health resources as part of My Choice Matters, a project of Council for Intellectual Disability.

A guide for doctors: This resource will equip General Practitioners (GPs) with the information they need to help people with a disability access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

A health workbook for people with disability: This resource will provide practical tools for improving communication, confidence and access in health services for people with disability. This resource will also help health professionals better understand the needs of their patients so they can provide health advice and services in a more personalised and timely manner.

Clare Woods recently joined the Council for Intellectual Disability's My Choice Matters (MCM) team to drive this exciting new project. Over the next few months Clare will run reference and focus groups with health professionals, people with disabilities and support networks to ensure the new resources effectively address current gaps in the system.

When the resources are ready for distribution, MCM will spend the time educating the community and health sector in how to best use the resources. Make sure you’re signed up to CID enews to learn more about the project. 

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Published 12 September 2017

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