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Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities may face barriers to adequate healthcare that include limited provider knowledge and training, social stigma, communication challenges, and insurance limitations ( Ruiz et al., 2020). Individuals with IDD may experience a broad range of healthcare issues such as poor oral health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mobility issues. Mortality at a lower age may be affected by these factors ( Roll & Bowers, 2017). Given the complexity of healthcare issues and the barriers associated with healthcare access and utilization that individuals with IDD encounter it is imperative to explore ways in which these issues can be addressed.
Care coordination can be an effective mechanism to assist with access barriers and increase quality healthcare utilization among the IDD population. Care coordination facilitates the organization of an individual’s healthcare needs across an array of healthcare providers through clear communication and consistent continued care. A care coordinator or case manager facilitates coordination of care and assists the individual in obtaining appropriate emergent care as well as preventive care. Care coordination can increase life expectancy and quality of life outcomes for individuals with IDD (Bowers et al., 2017).
Bowers et al. (2017) found when individuals with IDD had better care coordination experiences they were more likely to be happy with their overall health and willing to follow their treatment plans. This, is turn, resulted in regular and preventive health care visits and continuity of care. Unmet health care needs were reduced as well. This contributes to increased quality of life as well as longevity. Implications from this study for coordination of care providers include providing more training on better care coordination practices, communication techniques, and person-centered approaches to care coordination as these factors positively affect the care coordination experience of individuals with IDD (Bowers et al., 2017).
It is evident from literature sited above that care coordination can positively affect the health and well-being of individuals with IDD. Quality care coordination is effective in increasing satisfaction with healthcare experiences. This increases the likelihood that individuals with IDD will adhere to their treatment plans and continue to participate in their managed care programs. Life expectancy and quality of life are positively affected when this happens.
Bowers, A., Owen, R., & Heller, T. (2017). Care coordination experiences of people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid managed care. Disability and Rehabilitation, 39(21), 2207-2214. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2016.1219773
Roll, A. E. & Bowers, B. J. (2017). Promoting healthy aging in individuals with developmental disabilities: A qualitative case study. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 39(2), 234-251. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945916668329
Ruiz, S., Giuriceo, K., Caldwell, J., Snyder, L. P., & Putnam, M. (2020). Care coordination models improve quality of care for adults aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 30(4), 191-201, https://doi.org/10.1177/1044207319835195