Family Health Teams

What is the problem?

Primary care is the care a person receives when they first enter the health care system, most often in their own community from a family doctor or a nurse. Primary care is important. For example, through a comprehensive health assessment, primary health care providers can detect diseases that were not previously recognized and can offer more health promotion and prevention. But previous research by the H-CARDD program suggests that the majority of adults with developmental disabilities (DD) do not receive these assessments. In addition, people with DD are more likely than others to be hospitalized for conditions, including chronic illnesses, which could be better managed in the community. Also, people with DD commonly have multiple physical and mental health issues for which they are prescribed multiple medications at a level higher than the general population. This, too, can pose a potential risk to their health.

Improved access to primary care would likely provide important health benefits to people with DD.

How is H-CARDD helping?

The H-CARDD program is working with Family Health Teams to develop strategies to help adults with DD increase their access to comprehensive primary care-based health assessments.

The H-CARDD program is in keeping with Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care (2012). It stresses that people who have faster access to family health care stay healthier, get connected to the right care, and are less likely to require hospitalization.

For more information, please contact:

Ian Casson, MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University
Phone: 613 533 9303



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H-CARDD Conversations

Learn what former St. Joseph's Health Centre Urban Family Health Team residents, Dr. Matthew Mazurek and Dr. Alison Bruni say about this research.

Read the full interview and join the conversation.

More information

Summary: get a quick overview of this study in the research snapshot Annual Health Checks Can Improve Health Care for Adults With Developmental Disabilities. Snapshots are easy to understand two page summaries of H-CARDD research findings.

Primary Care Toolkit: This toolkit includes information on how to perform health checks for adults with developmental disabilities, as well as resources for caregivers and patients. Download the full Toolkit for Primary Care Providers or a shorter Guide on Completing Health Checks in Developmental Disabilities (also included in the full toolkit).

Publication: read more about Improving the quality of primary care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Value of the periodic health examination

Improving care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Role of clerical staff

Barriers and facilitators to improving health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: What do staff tell us?

Evaluating the implementation of health checks for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in primary care: The importance of organizational context

Video: in "Going to the doctor?" Andrew explains to people with developmental disabilities what happens when you go to the doctor and why it is important to get a health check.

Atlas of Primary Care: The Atlas of Primary Care of Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Ontario describes the health status of these adults and their use of health care relative to other adults.