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Disability support worker comforting a person with intellectual disability as they wait in Emergency

Disability Staff

Emergency Department

In these scenes, Jeff is with Amelia, his disability support worker,  who are joined by Lynne, his sister. Hospital staff are George, a nurse, and Sonia, a doctor.

Applying the Framework

Diagram showing the four framework processes, with the Knowing segment highlighted.

Knowing that

  • Hospital staff rely on accurate, specific and current information about a patient's medical concern to come to a diagnosis and decide on treatments.

  • Good disability practice includes bringing information  with you about the person, such as in a folder or Hospital Passport. 

  • Hospital staff may not always have time or the opportunity to review or search through large amounts of information in a folder or Hospital Passport.

  • Doctors in Emergency make a diagnosis as quickly as possible, and try to avoid unnecessary investigations.

  • Easy access to recent assessment results, such as X-rays or blood tests, reduces time in Emergency and avoids unnecessary procedures. 

Diagram showing the four framework processes, with the Informing segment highlighted.



You will need to tell hospital staff

  • your role and how well you know the person 

  • what you know about the person's current medical concern

  • specific information they ask for, such as the person's medical history or recent medical test results 

  • who can answer their questions if you can't

  • contact details for relatives who are nominated as the person's family contact or next-of-kin 

Diagram showing the four framework processes, with the Collaborating segment highlighted.

Collaborating is when you


  • tell hospital staff what you know of the person's medical problems or history and care needs, or where they can find that information

  • willingly retrieve specific information from a folder or Hospital Passport 

  • give hospital staff contact details for a relative involved with the person

  • share information and support of the person with family, if present 

Diagram showing the four framework processes, with the Supporting segment highlighted.



The person with intellectual disability will be supported when you

  • stay with them as long as possible or make sure someone who knows them well can be with them

  • have on-hand information relevant to their medical and personal care 

  • share support with another person, such as a family member 

Knowing something about the hospital system will be useful background when you accompany a person with intellectual disability to hospital.

People who present to an Emergency Department undergo assessments and treatments may start. Hospital staff need information about the person as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimise their time in Emergency and avoid unnecessary tests or treatments, or premature discharge. They need to access information, often from multiple people. Having accurate details about a person's presenting problem, medical history and next-of-kin will smooth the transition to the next point of the hospital journey. 

You can find further information in Resources about Hospital and Health Passports.




These are provided to support your learning, individually or in a group. You can write responses in the workbook sections available for download. 

Respond to the following questions in  your workbook:

  1. With someone you support in mind, list the information you think a doctor in the Emergency Department would need in order to diagnose their medical problem.

For each item on the list, identify what

  • you would know

  • would be in the person's hospital folder​

  • someone else would know, such as a manager or family member

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