Ensuring that the health workforce is adequately trained and equipped to care for patients with intellectual disabilities is an important step in realizing quality health care for this population. Through the establishment of an online learning portal for health care professionals and students to learn about intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is growing a cadre of health professionals appropriately prepared to provide quality, inclusive health services.
Supporting this platform, The Center for Inclusive Health, launched in 2018 and made possible by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a virtual hub for health care providers, fitness and wellness professionals, professional associations, and businesses to find resources to become more inclusive in their health practices and programming. The Center for Inclusive Health is a powerful tool to help ensure people with intellectual disabilities are included in mainstream health policies, laws, programs, services, training, research, and funding streams.
Few training programs for health care professionals include curriculum on caring for people with intellectual disabilities, resulting in a workforce that may be unprepared to treat this population. This may lead health professionals to misattribute symptoms to the disability rather than the physical cause, resulting in inadequate and/or delayed treatment. This lack of training is a significant barrier to achieving equitable health for people with intellectual disabilities.
Trained health professionals reported higher levels of improved knowledge and awareness: 89% agreed the training improved their understanding of the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities; 85% agreed they would provide better care for patients with intellectual disabilities as a result of the training.
In response, Special Olympics developed training for healthcare providers on working with people with intellectual disabilities. These free interactive e-learning courses aim to arm healthcare providers with the knowledge and understanding of how to be more inclusive as it relates to health programming and services.
For more information or to learn how you can get involved, contact us at HealthEducation@specialolympics.org