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Involving people with intellectual disabilities in the assessment of healthcare professionals

Sujata Soni (Trainee Psychiatrist, based at Tower Hamlets Community Learning Disability Service, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)
Ian Hall (Consultant Psychiatrist, based at Tower Hamlets Community Learning Disability Service, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)
Phill Doulton (Director, based at Professional Role Players Ltd, London, UK)
Peter Bowie (Chief Examiner, based at Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 28 October 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

It is widely recognised that people with intellectual disabilities receive a poorer quality of healthcare than their non-disabled counterparts. Training for healthcare professionals in intellectual disability is often scant or non-existent. The purpose of this paper is to explore the usefulness of employing actors with intellectual disabilities as simulated patients in the assessment of trainee psychiatrists.

Design/methodology/approach

The development of a structured clinical exam “station” designed to assess the ability of trainee psychiatrists to communicate with a simulated patient played by an actor with an intellectual disability is described. The paper also assesses the potential benefits of this kind of assessment and the experience of actors and examiners taking part in this process.

Findings

The station was found to perform well in discriminating between candidates of various abilities and was well received by actors, examiners and observers. The station is now routinely used in the formal assessment of trainee psychiatrists.

Practical implications

The use of people with intellectual disabilities in training and assessment appears to be advantageous in terms of improving knowledge, attitudes and skills amongst healthcare professionals and gives increased opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to undertake valued social roles.

Originality/value

Few institutions currently employ actors with intellectual disabilities as simulated patients as part of their training programmes and as a result there is little in the way of literature on this subject. This paper describes an alternative approach to teaching and assessment which falls in line with recommendations from the Department of Health to involve service users in the training of healthcare professionals.

Keywords

Citation

Soni, S., Hall, I., Doulton, P. and Bowie, P. (2014), "Involving people with intellectual disabilities in the assessment of healthcare professionals", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 362-369. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-04-2014-0011

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited