It is estimated that approximately 1.3% of the population of NSW have an intellectual disability (ID), with an estimated 3900 people with ID living in the Northern NSW Local Health District. It is widely recognised that people with Intellectual Disability experience more complex and chronic health issues, poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy than the general population.
Northern Sydney Intellectual Disability Health Service (NSIDHS) is part of a statewide initiative to improve health outcomes and support people with intellectual disability. The service includes a number of specialised intellectual disability health teams, supported by a network of specialised ID clinicians (SIDCs) located in Local Health Districts across NSW. The NSIDHS works alongside the SIDCs in the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW regions, to deliver outreach services to these areas. The Northern NSW SIDC is Michelle Gray (Social Worker).
The NSIDHS is focussed on finding new and innovative ways to work with consumers, carers and clinicians to improve the health care experiences and outcomes of people with intellectual disability and to reduce health disparities for this population. They are also passionate about challenging the stereotypes faced by people with intellectual disability, particularly related to behaviours of concern, decision making and quality of life.
The NSIDHS medical team is headed by Dr Seeta Durvasula, who has been consulting in intellectual disability medicine for more than 25 years. Seeta is the Clinical Director of NSIDHS and is also a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Disability Health. Seeta is joined by Dr Yvette Vella, a Developmental and General Paediatrician who has expertise in managing complex behaviours of concern in children and adolescents with ID and autism. In addition, the service has a clinical nurse consultant, social worker, psychologist, manager and administrator.
- As a consultative service, NSIDHS works in collaboration with the treating doctor/team to provide support in the treatment and management of children and adults with an ID diagnosis and a current complex and unmet health concern, in both community and inpatient settings.
The service can provide:
- Comprehensive health assessments (with detailed report and recommendations)
- Joint consultations
- Case discussions
- Clinical advice (via telehealth, and face to face) - including strategies to manage behaviours of concern, and reasonable adjustments that health professionals and health services can make to improve the experiences and health outcomes of people with ID accessing services.
- Capacity building and education opportunities for health staff and General Practice teams.
The Role of the SIDs
The role of the SIDCs is to support local clinicians and clinical teams caring for people with ID within Hospital, Community Health, Mental Health and Primary Health services (GPs) across the region. The focus of the position is to enhance the health care experience and improve health outcomes for people with ID.
SIDCs will provide consultation and advice on management of people with ID in health care settings, such as:
- Suggestions/strategies for reasonable adjustment to better meet the needs of people with ID accessing all health care services
- Supporting clinicians to build confidence and skills in working with people with ID
- Assisting health staff to identify pathways and services for people with intellectual disability
- Attending case conferences/reviews
- Supporting complex discharge planning for people with ID, especially those who have changed support needs. This enables cross sector communication and collaborative health care management
- Supporting the referral process for complex patients to specialist ID health services, if required, for eligible clients with a high level of complexity or unresolved health issues.
The position also supports the specialist team in developing and delivering outreach services in the District.
What do we hope to achieve together?
Together we can:
- Increase NSW health staff and GP practice teams’ understanding of complexities in ID health
- Improve the knowledge, experience, skills and confidence of health professionals working with people with ID
- Improve access to healthcare and health outcomes for people with ID
- Improve the healthcare experience for people with ID
- Reduce the likelihood of diagnostic overshadowing
- Challenge stereotypes and reduce stigma experienced by people with ID
Who can access NSIDHS outreach service?
Anyone living within the Northern NSW Local Health District who has:
- An intellectual disability; and
- A complex and unmet health need that cannot be met by usual care.
For local referrals or enquiries:
Northern NSW Local Health District
Contact Michelle Gray
Ph: (02) 6623 0586 or 0447 627 391
Northern Sydney Intellectual Disability Health Service