Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsHello and welcome to week one of this three week course focused on engaging people with intellectual disability in health assessment. My name is Eilish Burke, and I'm an Ussher Assistant Professor in ageing and intellectual disability here in Trinity College, and the associate director of the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability. I will be guiding you through this course. Like the general population, people with intellectual disability are now living well into old age. However, this is the first time in history that we are experiencing growing numbers of older adults with intellectual disability. It is not too long ago that people with Down syndrome, for example, did not live past their teens.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsNow, whilst ageing is a success story, and one to be celebrated, we know that people with intellectual disability have greater health needs and frequently present with older age conditions at a much younger age. Detecting poor health and supporting people to maintain their health can be challenging for all health care professionals. Individuals with intellectual disability in particular may find it difficult to participate in health assessment or health screening. They may have challenges in expressing their own health concerns or may simply not have the cognitive ability to understand that the symptoms they are experiencing relates to ill health. This course will offer you insights into the similarities and differences in the health of people with intellectual disability compared with the general population.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsIt will explore the inequalities that individuals experience that often prevent their engagement in have assessment. You will gain valuable nuggets that you can transfer into your daily practice on how you can truly include people with intellectual disability in engaging in health assessment. The course will provide you with robust information and techniques, and is underpinned by the world leading longitudinal study on ageing and intellectual disability, the IDS-TILDA study. In this first week, we will explore how health challenges for people with intellectual disability are different, and how people with intellectual disability present with different patterns of chronic ill health. Despite these health challenges, many are frequently marginalised in health assessments.

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 secondsSo as you watch the videos, read the articles, and take part in the discussion, you will have plenty of opportunities to share your thoughts- and build your knowledge on engaging people with intellectual disability in health assessment.

Welcome to the course!

Welcome to the first week of this three week course on Improving Health Assessments for People with an Intellectual Disability.

Find out more about your lead educator Eilish here and follow Eilish’s comments by clicking on her profile and clicking on the follow square.

Prof Eilish Burke
I am an Ussher Assistant Professor in Ageing and Intellectual Disability at Trinity College Dublin, and the Associate Director of the new Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability.
Prof Eilish Burke

Other team members will be on hand to answer your comments and queries.

  • Michelle Cleary is a Registered Nurse Intellectual Disability (RNID) and Teaching Fellow at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin.
  • Judy Ryan is a Registered Nurse Intellectual Disability (RNID) and PhD Student at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin.
  • Sarah Bowman is the is Director of Strategic Engagement for the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability.
  • Dr Silvia Gallagher will be helping you with any technical queries and comments.

As Eilish has talked about in her video, this course will give healthcare professionals robust information and techniques for improving health assessments for people with intellectual disability. Each week will look at a different theme. At the end of the week you will be asked to consider a case study, and complete some multiple choice questions to help you reflect on the course materials. For those of you who would like to gain a certificate, we have a test at the end of the course for you to complete.

Week 1: Health and healthcare for people with an intellectual disability

In Week 1, we will setting the scene for this course.

  • You’ll first explore how the healthcare landscape is changing. There are growing numbers of older people with an intellectual disability, and we identify how and why healthcare professionals need to address this.
  • Then, we will move on to describing the similarities and differences in health conditions between the general population, and people with an intellectual disability.
  • We will also be looking at the health disparities and challenges for people with an intellectual disability and how they differ from the general population.

Week 2: Communication

In Week 2, we will be moving to the more practical aspects of the course.

  • We will describe one of the most common challenges to improving health assessments for people with an intellectual disability: communication.
  • You will find out best practice communication techniques for including people with intellectual disability in health assessments.
  • You will be asked to reflect on your own communication techniques and consider a case study.

Week 3: Engaging with health assessment

In Week 3, we will be exploring the concept of reasonable adjustment in more detail.

  • You will get a chance to make your own Easy Read materials to include people with intellectual disability in your own health assessments.
  • We will explore the issue of consent during health assessments.
  • We will take you through a complete health assessment and use best practice techniques for success.

At the end of this course, you will have gained valuable information about the health assessment needs for people with an intellectual disability, and how to practically implement them in your practice.

Please note that throughout the course there are many examples given which are drawn from the lead lecturers experience, knowledge and practice. These examples of care for people with intellectual disabilities are predominantly from a western society or European perspective. They are given for illustration purposes and are not meant to be imply that there is no other perspective. We would be happy and look forward to hearing of all experiences and examples of care and would be delighted if you share from your perspective which would be beneficial to all learners. Thank you.


Before you start

We and FutureLearn would like to know how you found this course and what your expectations are. If you’d like, you can fill in a short survey.


Your first task

Now that we have introduced the course, we would like you to introduce yourself to your fellow learners. Click on the comment section below and write a short comment.

  • Tell us where you are from and your professional role
  • Share what experience you have working with people with intellectual disability
  • Describe why you are doing this course

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This video is from the free online course:

Improving Health Assessments for People with an Intellectual Disability

Trinity College Dublin