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Father comforting son with intellectual disability as they wait in Emergency

Family / Close others


In this scene, you will see Jeff with Amelia, his disability support worker, and Lynne, his sister.

Applying the Framework

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

Knowing that

  • Short Stay Units are designated areas within or close to the Emergency Department. 

  • They may seem very similar to the Emergency Department, such as having cubicles for each patient.

  • They allow additional time (up to 24 hours) for assessment, observation and short-term treatment.

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



You will need to 

  • repeat information with new hospital staff that you and your family member meet as you move through the hospital 

  • ask questions of hospital staff and communicate the answers to your family member in ways they can understand

  • let hospital staff know your concerns about how your family member responds to changes, such as moving to new locations 

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

Collaborating is when you

  • share information with disability support workers who might be present

  • share the support of your family member with the direct support worker

  • explain your concerns to hospital staff

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



Your family member will feel supported when you​

  • advocate for their needs, such as time to prepare them for a transition to another part of the hospital

  • calmly explain upcoming changes


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

People with intellectual disabilities are usually comfortable when in familiar surroundings with familiar people. They can become anxious when moving to a new place in a hospital after they have settled. You can reassure them if you know about upcoming transitions and explain them to the person in ways they understand. Picture supports, such as those that might be part of a person's AAC system, can be used to help them understand what is about to happen and give them a way to communicate. Even if the person does not understand what is being said, your use of their communication system can include and reassure them.


You can find information in Resources about Augmentative and Alternative Communication, communication and people with intellectual disabilities, and hospital short stay units.



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

This section has focused on just one type of transition that can occur at points along the hospital journey. Respond to the following - you can write your responses in the workbook.

  1. Describe Lynne's reaction to Jeff being told he was moving to another location.

  2. Compare her reaction to your own if you have been or might be in a similar situation.

  3. List questions you may have had for George.

  4. Describe how George responded to Lynne and Amelia's questions and his willingness to collaborate with them.

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