Are nurses in Australia prepared enough to care for people with Intellectual disability?

Dr. Natasha Jojo1, Dr Rhonda Wilson2

1University Of Canberra, Bruce, Australia, 2University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

This integrative literature review aimed to gather evidence about what is known in regard to the practice of disability nursing in Australia in the context of workforce changes with the introduction of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It is been reported that people with Intellectual Disability (ID) have poor health outcomes, compromised physical health and limited accessibility to health services. It is further illustrated with 38 % of the avoidable deaths for people with ID, in contrast to 17% in the general population and a 26-year gap in life expectancy with the general population. Thus, it is significant to understand how the profound care service delivery changes for people with ID have impacted the quality of care they receive when in hospital and/or community settings.

This paper adopted an integrated literature review method. Five electronic data bases were systematically searched: CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Cochrane Library with selected search terms, and following PRISMA guidelines. Studies published in English in peer reviewed journals during 2010-2020 were included. Data extraction and analysis were completed on all included studies. The final sample comprised of 21 studies.

Researchers reported that nurses are unprepared for effective health communication with people with ID. There is a lack of evidence to inform ID nurse’s practice, guidelines and policies. Nurses also are reported variable understanding and competency of practice standards designed for intellectual and developmental disability nursing. Nurses with specific expertise are needed to care for people with ID. Australia is failing to include adequate pre-registration curriculum for the quality nursing care of people with ID.

Review findings emphasized the importance of improved clinical placement opportunities and dedicated content in the pre-registration curriculum . Improved specialist post-graduate programs for ID nursing are required, together with further research in disability nursing practice.


Natasha Jojo is an Assistant Professor, under the Faculty of Health and Nursing International student Convenor, University of Canberra. Augmenting her professional background in Mental Health Nursing she completed her doctorate in Nursing from National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India in 2018.Her research are focused on children with Intellectual Disability and their parents, training them in sexuality and sexual abuse. She has more than ten years of teaching and research experience. She has worked in various capacities, as Editorial Board Member, as member of Ethics Committee, and Peer reviewer for several National and International journals. She has several publications in national and international journals, and she has been a resource person for national and international conferences. She is a recognized Guide for the Doctoral students in University of Canberra.

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