Nearly 60% of RNs say they have limited awareness of the concept of reasonable accommodations for patients with intellectual disabilities, researchers reported in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. They said their findings indicate a dire need for increased nursing education and training.

The researchers surveyed 693 RNs practicing throughout Australia’s urban and rural regions. They found that although 59.6% reported being unaware of reasonably accommodating their nursing care for patients with intellectual disabilities, 52.1% had been making such adjustments to their practice using strategies such as:

  • Adapting their nursing approach
  • Allowing more time for communication and planning for physical disabilities’ effect on their time management
  • Avoiding stimuli than can trigger challenges, such as lights or noises

Only 12.7% and 24.9% said that they felt confident in their understanding of addressing patients’ health needs and referring them to appropriate services, respectively.

More than 63% of the nurses surveyed reported no undergraduate education about reasonable accommodations for intellectual disabilities, and nearly 66% had not received continuing education on the topic.

“There is a strong association between education, comfort and self-perceived capability in provision of care and making reasonable adjustments to facilitate optimum care with people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder,” the researchers concluded. “A higher volume, and diversity in type of, nursing education related to care for people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder is indicated.”