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Dual diagnosis: Resources

Information for professionals

Guidelines for Managing the Client with Intellectual Disability in the Emergency Room

These guidelines for psychiatric residents and care providers who work in a hospital psychiatric unit address issues that care providers may experience when attending to a person with developmental disabilities who is in crisis.


Best Practice video series

Developed by the DD Cares: Improving Emergency Care & Community Follow-up project, these videos demonstrate interactions between clinicians and people with developmental disabilities in the emergency room. The series covers the following topics:

  • the aggressive patient
  • the depressed patient
  • the frequent visitor
  • assessing suicidality
  • adapting a medical procedure
  • improving primary care.

Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative: Guideline and tools

Resources developed by this project team include:

Research programs

Health Care Access Research in Developmental Disabilities (H-CARDD)

The H-CARDD program addresses disparities in health status and health care access faced by individuals with developmental disabilities in Ontario. It aims to enhance the overall health and well-being of this population by engaging researchers, policy-makers, health care planners, clinicians, adults with developmental disabilities and caregivers to improve health care policy and services.

Guides for clients and families

A Family Guide to Dual Diagnosis 

Part 1: An overview of dual diagnosis, an introduction to treatment options and information about developmental disabilities, mental health problems and how they interact.

Part II: Information about the impact of dual diagnosis on family life and self-care strategies for family members.

Part III: Information about treatment and support for people with a dual diagnosis, including strategies for navigating the treatment system, information about psychosocial and medication treatment options and anticipating and coping with crisis situations.

Dual Diagnosis: An Information Guide

This guide was developed for families and caregivers of people with developmental disabilities. It provides basic information about dual diagnosis and explains what we know about services and supports and how to best access them. It also suggests ways to take care of yourself while being a caregiver.

Links from Dual Diagnosis: An Information Guide

Agencies (Ontario)
Tools, forms and guidelines
Resources for social support

You can find information about local support groups in your area through:

These groups focus on specific disabilities or specific cultural groups:

These regional support groups and family resources may be helpful:

Videos for clients and families

What to expect when you go to the ER

This brief clip with Dr. Yona Lunsky walks through what occurs at a visit to the emergency department, with tips on how to make the most of the visit. (3:11)

Use of emergency room services by clients with developmental disability 

Dr. Yona Lunsky's talks about her research on emergency departments and what we should do to plan and prepare. (6:19)

There are no quick fixes: Comprehensive assessment 

Dr. Yona Lunsky walks through the systematic process of figuring out whether someone with a developmental disability has a psychiatric diagnosis. She provides practical tips on how to make the process as thorough as possible. (5:23)

Using emergency services 

Jillian Carlyle offers practical advice aboutr how to plan for crises that might happen in the community, including how to work with police, what you can do if you call 911 and things to remember when going to hospital. (7:07)

The role of occupational therapists 

Dual diagnosis requires an interdisciplinary approach, so Denise Dubois explains how occupational therapy can help. (7:17)

Understanding challenging behaviour 

Louis Busch explains how behaviour therapists try to understand why someone with a developmental disability displays challenging behaviour and suggests ways to reduce this type of behaviour. (6:54)

Going to the inpatient ward 

Anna Palucka offers suggestions for how to make the most of an inpatient admission for someone with a developmental disability. (3:49)