What is the issue?
Current estimates show that 45% of adults with developmental disabilities also have a mental illness or addiction. Adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness or addiction need complex and highly integrated health care. They have poor physical health and often experience challenges finding their way through the health and social service systems. Currently, we do not have a good understanding of the unique needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness, and of those with developmental disabilities and addictions. Knowing more about this can help improve their health care.
How is H-CARDD helping?
The H-CARDD program aims to address this issue by answering questions like:
What do we know about addictions in adults with developmental disabilities? We have found that 6% of adults with developmental disabilities also have substance related or addiction problems. This is much higher than the percentages reported by other studies on developmental disabilities; this may be because H-CARDD includes more people with mild developmental disabilities. It is also higher than the percent found in the general population in Canada. In addition, most of these individuals (78%) also have a mental illness.
What are the health care needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness or addiction problems? They are more likely to have chronic diseases such as diabetes or congestive heart failure compared to either adults without developmental disabilities or those with developmental disabilities but no mental illness or addiction problem. In particular, adults with developmental disabilities and addiction problems are more likely to have a respiratory illness such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How do adults with developmental disabilities and a mental illness or addiction problem use health care services compared to other groups? Compared to adults without a developmental disabilities or those with a developmental disability but no mental illness or addiction, they are more likely to visit a medical doctor, go to the emergency department, or stay at a hospital than other groups. They are also more likely to revisit the emergency department or hospital.
The H-CARDD program builds on the vision of the Joint Policy Guideline for the Provision of Community Mental Health and Developmental Services for Adults with a Dual Diagnosis (2008).