A new approach to caring for individuals with developmental
disabilities (DD) officially launched in the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre emergency
department (ED) on January 23rd.
The initiative’s name is DD CARES, and its aim is to provide
EDs, community agencies, caregivers and people with DD with tools and
information that can make a trip to the ED a better one.
Members of the interdisciplinary DD CARES team l to r: Sarah Reynolds, RN, Psychiatry Emergency Services, Sunnybrook; Darren Hefferon, ED Information System (EDIS) Administrator, Sunnybrook; Dr. Jacques Lee, Emergency Physician, Sunnybrook; Andrea Perry, Registered OT, CAMH; Johanna Lake, Postdoctoral Fellow, CAMH; Ray Howald, Clinical Educator, Sunnybrook (Photo courtesy of Doug Nicholson)
“Research tells us that individuals with DD are more likely
to visit the ED and they are more likely to have repeat visits than the general
population,” says Andrea Perry, registered occupational therapist and
implementation facilitator for the Underserved Populations Program at the
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). “They also often leave the ED
without a formal crisis prevention and management plan, and may experience difficulty
receiving support and follow-up in the community. DD CARES is working to
address these issues and gaps.”
Examples of how the DD CARES initiative can help include:
providing communication aids for patients, providing staff education,
development of new department protocols, and discharge packages for patients.
This not only supports staff as they treat patients in the ED, it also enables
people with DD to be more involved in their health care.
DD CARES was developed by researchers and clinicians at CAMH
and Sunnybrook as part of the Health Card Access Research and Developmental
Disabilities (H-CARDD) program, directed by Dr. Yona Lunsky
at CAMH. Led by Dr. Jacques Lee, Sunnybrook is the first ED to adopt DD CARES
and the goal is to roll it out to more hospitals in the coming months.
DD CARES also has a parallel effort working with Family
Health Teams to implement best practice guidelines for the primary care of
people with DD. To learn more about DD CARES, please visit www.ddcares.ca.