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

People with ​Intellectual Disabilities

Emergency Department

In these videos, Jeff is in the Emergency Department. He is with Amelia, his disability support worker. Soon,  Lynne, his sister arrives. You will also meet George, a nurse. In the last video, we show what might happen if Lynne hasn't been able to get to the hospital. Amelia tells Sonia, a doctor, how to contact Lynne.

Applying the Framework

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

Knowing that

  • In the Emergency Department, doctors and nurses will ask questions, watch you, take your temperature and blood pressure, and order tests like blood tests and X-Rays to find out what is causing your medical problem or how bad an injury might be.

  • They need to get the exact information that is most up-to-date about your health or injury. Then they can work out how to treat your problem.

  • It is a good idea and good practice to have information about you and your health written down, such as in a Hospital Passport. 

  • Someone with you may need to find answers to questions that hospital staff ask from your Hospital Passport. 

  • Doctors in Emergency try to make a diagnosis as quickly as possible - they don't want to repeat tests that you have already had.

  • They may need to phone a family member if the person with you can't answer their questions - it is a good idea to have the phone number in your Hospital Passport of someone who knows about your health. 

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



The person with you will need to tell hospital staff

  • if they are a family member, friend or disability support worker and how well they know you 

  • why you have come to hospital

  • specific information they ask for - this might be about health problems you have had before and any recent blood tests, X-rays or other tests 

  • who can answer questions about your health if both you and the person with you can't

  • the phone number of your closest family member or other person who knows about your health

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

Collaborating happens when the person with you


  • answers a doctor, nurse or other hospital staff's questions

  • gives them the phone number of a close family member if needed

  • is happy to look through your folder or Hospital Passport to find answers to their questions

  • shares information and support with anyone else who arrives to help support you 

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



You will be supported when the person with you

  • stays with you or makes sure someone else who knows you well can stay

  • has brought written information about your health and personal care needs, such as in a folder or Hospital Passport

  • shares support of you with another person, such as a family member or disability support worker

People who support you when you go to hospital need to know what happens in an Emergency Department.

While you are in an Emergency Department, a nurse will watch you and take your temperature and blood pressure. You may have tests, like blood tests and X-Rays, so that doctors and nurses can work out your medical problem or how serious your injury is.  Hospital staff need to find out things about you quickly so that they can start treatment and make sure you don't have to stay in the Emergency Department for a long time. It is a good idea and good practice to have a folder of information, such as in a Hospital Passport, with you when you go to hospital. Hospital Passports should have information about you, your health and your personal care needs, and the name and phone number of your closest family member. Having this information can help make sure you move to the next stage of your hospital journey as soon as possible. 

You can find more information in the Resources tab about hospital and health passports.




These activities will help you to think about what you have learned. You can do them or your own as an Individual or with friends as a Group. You can write answers in the workbook that you can download onto your computer. 

Write down your answers to these in your workbook, or ask someone to write them for you:

What sorts of things about you do you think a nurse or doctor in the Emergency Department would need to know - here are some ideas:​​

  1. how you communicate​

  2. where you live - it could be with family or in a group home

  3. past medical problems

  4. your health now

  5. names of people who know you well, and their phone numbers

Is there someone who can put this information in a hospital passport? You can find a blank Hospital Passport under the Resources tab that someone could help you complete.

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