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Feasibility, acceptability, resource implications and early outcome indicators of Specialist Intellectual Disability Services delivered virtually

Western NSW Local Health District

  • Translational Research Grants Scheme
Date Funded:
  • 1 July, 2022
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Melissa Nott
  • Merryn John

Project Summary

This research will inform the future direction of virtual care service delivery for people with intellectual disability and their families.

The main researchers for this project are Ms Merryn John and Associate Professor Melissa Nott.

What is the issue for NSW?

The NSW Model of Care underpinning delivery of specialist services to people with intellectual disability has required a rapid shift from face-to-face services to virtual care. Triggers for this rapid shift include expansion of specialist services to more rural and remote areas of NSW and the COVID-19 pandemic. This rapid shift to deliver online care has created challenges and opportunities. Clinicians, clients, families, and health service partners have transitioned to virtual care with varying levels of willingness. This reservation is understandable given the limited guidance currently available within the Model of Care regarding the use of virtual care. Anecdotal evidence from staff and clients of the Intellectual Disability Health Teams in South-Western Sydney and Western NSW suggests a predominantly positive transition to virtual care; however, accessibility and equity remain challenges and research evidence is lacking in this area.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Aim (1) is to determine feasibility, acceptability, resource implications and early outcome indicators of delivering virtual care services to people with intellectual disability from diverse geographical and socio-cultural backgrounds.  Aim (2) is to co-design resources that support engagement of clients, families, and clinicians in virtual care. A mixed-methods approach involving surveys, interviews and focus groups will explore the experiences of providing and receiving virtual care services from the perspectives of clients with intellectual disability and their families, specialist clinicians and mainstream service partners.

The project will assess:

  • The Model of Care for people with intellectual disability in NSW will be informed by practice-based evidence that includes virtual care as standard.
  • People with intellectual disability experience greater quality of life through having equal choice and access to specialist healthcare irrespective of geographical location.
  • Clinicians have evidence-informed tools and resources to support their use of virtual care with people who have intellectual disability.