The experiences of people with developmental disability in Emergency Departments and hospital wards Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of this study was to determine whether needs of people with developmental disability were met during visits to Emergency Departments and stays in hospital. Responses to a questionnaire were obtained from 328 clients of three Victorian organizations. Of 119 respondents who had attended a hospital within a year of completing the questionnaire, most indicated that their needs were met in the areas of hydration and nutrition, medication, mobility and discharge. There were significant associations between getting enough to drink and being able to move from a bed, and having a support person stay with the patient. These results suggested a great reliance on support people during hospitalizations. Issues raised in the questionnaire were explored in follow-up interviews with 11 respondents or their support people. Reliance on support people emerged as a strong theme in interview transcripts, as did hospital staff's negative attitudes, and lack of skills and knowledge in developmental disability. These results are discussed in light of recent literature and the need to address issues in the larger context of the needs of support people and hospital staff.

publication date

  • July 2003