Promoting good health for people with an intellectual disability
But, many secondary health conditions, especially those caused by lifestyle behaviour, can be prevented with targeted health promotion.
Health promotion and health education
- Health promotion addresses changes in patterns of health behaviour. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health promotion as: ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over and improve their health’.
- Health education provides health information and knowledge to individuals and communities to enhance their skills in adopting overall better health behaviours.
Benefits of health promotion and health education
- Enable and empower individuals to take responsibility for their health.
- Improve health outcomes.
- Enhance the quality of life of individuals whilst addressing health disparities.
- Shape a healthier future by implementing changes in healthcare delivery in response to people’s needs.
Why consider health promotion differently for people with intellectual disabilities?
- People’s health experience can be different and compromised due to pre-existing impairment.
- People have literacy and communication difficulties, especially in comprehension and expression.
- Presentation of older age chronic conditions frequently occur much earlier.
- People often present with different risk factors that impact on overall health.
- Socio-economic factors impact on their ability to engage and understand health promotion.
- Educational factors have an impact on health promotion.
Promoting health and wellbeing
- Supporting healthy lifestyle behaviour change.
- Providing health education for both people with intellectual disability and their carers.
- Involving people with intellectual disability and their carers as co-producers and collaborators.
- Ensuring all health promotion is person-centred.
Strategies for improving health promotion
However despite the benefits of health promotion and education, broadly speaking, people with intellectual disabilities have been left out. Identifying and addressing the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities is an imperative step in addressing the health promotion disparity.In Week 1, we talked about how people with intellectual disabilities presented with different patterns of disease. So, health-wise, what is important to their non-disabled peers may not be as important in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.However, all citizens need to be considered when health promotion is designed and developed. It must be pitched through a medium that is appropriate to the audience. Also, consideration to meet particular needs should be taken when individual or local health promotion campaigns are designed, that is, making reasonable adjustment to the format the health promotion campaign will take.For example, try using visual medias, plain language, keeping the message clear, concise and simple, and underpinning targeted campaigns with empirical evidence. Next week, we will be learning about Easy Read materials, and how they can be used for both health assessments and health promotion.Here are some practical strategies that you can implement in your practice:The convention states that people with disabilities have a right to enjoy, as attainable as possible, a high standard of health without discrimination.
- Identifying specific areas of concern within your practice, for example, nutrition or physical activity.
- Cater for specific levels of intellectual disability and their supporters.
- Use materials and methods that will reach as many people as possible.
- Use multiple methods of communication to ensure accessibility, for example, use video, drawings, photos or picture systems.
- Identify what is appropriate and prioritise information with people with intellectual disabilities.
Share your thoughts
- Find a health promotion leaflet, video, website or resource from your country or field. For example, this Health Ireland exercise website
Improving Health Assessments for People with an Intellectual Disability
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