It is critical to consider how rapid changes in health care delivery and the rise in use of virtual modalities have impacted adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and caregivers.
The purpose of this paper is to describe direct support professionals’ experiences assisting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in accessing virtual and in-person health care during COVID-19.
A content analysis was conducted on responses obtained from an online questionnaire distributed to 942 direct support professionals in Canada. Descriptive statistics were used to report the type of visits that occurred and open text responses describing these visits were coded.
Twenty four percent of direct support professionals reported supporting someone at an in-person medical appointment, 22% reported attending at least one video-based virtual appointment and 58% reported supporting at least one phone based virtual appointment in the first 5 months of the pandemic. They identified several barriers and facilitators with each type of visit which suggests there is no “single way” to provide health care to this group, but that optimal care depends on maximizing the fit between the person’s abilities, the skill set of direct support professionals and health care providers, and the presenting health care issue.
Study findings provide insight into the experience of health care for this population during COVID-19 and can be used to support direct support professionals and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to adapt to safe, supportive and comprehensive virtual and in-person health care during the pandemic and beyond.