H-CARDD Connects - Issue 4 November 2016
News about research findings, resources and tools to improve the health care of people with developmental disabilities.

Primary Care

Welcome back to H-CARDD Connects! This month you will learn about H-CARDD efforts to improve primary care for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) and solutions for practice. Primary care is about building a strong relationship with a doctor or health care team so that small problems can be addressed before they become overly complex or serious. For patients with DD, the benefits of receiving regular health checks from a primary care provider are regarded as one of the most important investments in their care. 
However this patient population is often overlooked, so a planned process to improve their primary care is needed. 

If you find this information helpful, please share it with friends and colleagues. For more information visit our website at www.hcardd.ca or email hcardd@camh.ca

Implementing Annual Health Checks for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Adults with DD face more health problems and more difficulties accessing health care than other adults. In Canada, primary care guidelines recommend that adults with DD have an annual preventive care assessment, or “health check” to identify and manage health concerns. Yet, in Ontario, only one in five adults with DD receives a “health check.” Our team supported three family health teams in Ontario to implement health checks, evaluate factors that make for a successful roll out, and create solutions for future sites. Our intervention included identifying patients with DD in the practice, inviting them in for a health check, and supporting staff to provide a health review consistent with the guidelines. Click the button below to watch a video where Dr. Ian Casson speaks about our primary care project and what we learned.

Watch a video

Moving Guidelines into Practice

This toolkit will walk you through how to implement health checks for patients with DD. We encourage you to tailor the implementation to your site by picking and choose the pieces that meet the needs of your practice. Download the toolkit Implementing Health Checks for Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

Download the Toolkit
Do you have a question about this research?
Let us know on Twitter at @HCARDD  #askHCARDD
Going Forward to Improve Primary Care

We have learned that a systems approach is necessary to help reduce barriers to access and improve quality of primary care for adults with DD. Joining with existing programs in health and developmental services may help dissemination and sustainability of a primary care recommendation like Health Checks. An interesting example of how to link health and developmental services sectors is a pilot study led by family doctors Meg Gemmill, Liz Grier and Ian Casson in the Kingston area. Health Links, a program of the Ministry of Health, coordinates patient centered, comprehensive care, focused in primary care, to patients with complex health issues. We have adapted the Health Links’ tools to better meet the needs of adults with DD and are recruiting patients who might benefit from these tools through developmental service agencies. We expect to have results about the feasibility and effectiveness of these coordinated care plans over the next year. To learn more about this project, contact Mary Martin, Research Associate.

In Case You Missed It 

Just What the Doctor Ordered
Want to learn more about the health check or how you can make a difference too? Read: ‘The Health Check: What is it and what do staff need to know?'’ in Service, Support, and Success: International Journal for Direct Support Professionals (Available in English and French!). This article is written for support staff.

Weaving Solutions: NADD 2016
The H-CARDD Team was at the 33rd annual meeting for the National Association on the Dually Diagnosed in Niagara Falls, Ontario last week. Attendees enjoyed a keynote on addictions in those with developmental disabilities and "the other dual diagnosis" from H-CARDD Scientific Lead Dr. Elizabeth Lin and Dr. Elspeth Slayter.

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H-CARDD Conversations: Primary Care

We caught up with former University of Toronto family medicine residents from St. Joseph’s Health Centre Urban Family Health Team, Dr. Alison Bruni and Dr. Matthew Mazurek. We asked them where they are now and to comment on how H-CARDD research findings related to their research project which aimed to educate and train family medicine residents in their practice to be more knowledgeable and comfortable when caring for patients with DD.

“I was inspired by some champions in the community who are passionate about this issue, and realized that I could also initiate changes at my own Family Health Team with some effort and determination.  H-CARDD helped me to become aware of the community resources that are available for patients with developmental disabilities, as well as the health disparities that exist within this population.” – Alison Bruni

“I am excited to see H-CARDD’s continued outstanding work to support meeting the striking care gaps for this population. While our research focused on self-reported provider skills and comfort after an educational seminar, future research can address if such education impacts objective health care outcomes, such as screening rates.” – Matthew Mazurek

Read the Full interview
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Email: hcardd@camh.ca