IDD Nurses: The Missing Link

By: S. Diane Moore, BSN, RN, CDDN

Chain with heart

Where is the nurse in today’s support settings for individuals with IDD?

With an emphasis on offering persons with IDD more typical lifestyles and experiences, many individuals are supported in community-based settings with health support provided by unlicensed direct support personnel (DSP) – and increasingly, without nursing involvement or oversight. Oftentimes the DSP are unprepared to provide the health care and support needed. This places the individual at risk in these settings, with adverse outcomes noted all too commonly.

What is the missing link to positive health outcomes? The IDD nurse.

The involvement of experienced IDD nurses in the person’s support plan helps assure quality in health support – by providing critical assessment, education and oversight of the person’s health and providing education and oversight for support personnel.

Limiting nursing involvement, in an effort to “escape a medical model”, places persons with IDD at significant risk of adverse health outcomes – and it is this approach to support for persons with IDD that should be viewed as the human rights infringement, rather than the presence of a nurse to provide needed health oversight.

This access to and availability of nursing support is required in essentially all other community-based health support programs serving individuals without disabilities – why is this same level of care and support not available or demanded for persons with disabilities?

In an effort to explore this trend and its implications for persons with IDD, a series of very short surveys will be forwarded to you, requesting your input. The surveys are designed to collect data on many of the factors and variables affecting healthcare structure and health outcomes for persons with IDD. This data will help begin to examine the correlation between the involvement of an experienced IDD nurse and positive health outcomes for the individual with IDD.

Your input is important! Please help, by responding to the surveys and providing the data needed to evaluate the importance of having an experienced IDD nurse involved in the person’s life.

More information will follow as the data is collected and this important health issue is explored further!