A national survey of nurses who care for people with intellectual and developmental disability
Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation
School of Nursing and Midwifery
© 2020 Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation. Objective: To describe the roles that Australian nurses play, the breadth of skills that they deploy, and the range of contexts in which they practice. Study design and methods: This cross-sectional study used a descriptive survey where data were collected online using Qualtrics©. Survey respondents were nurses whose primary role was caring for people with intellectual and developmentdisability. In addition to demographic data, the main outcome measures were: nursing roles, practice and context. Results: Complete responses were collected from 101 nurses; 78 females and 22 males completed the survey, the majority of whom (n=70) were from New South Wales. The major focus of care was direct assessment and care, followed by supervision of support workers, education, and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disability. Physical healthcare was consistent across body systems, as it was for all adaptive behaviour domains. Support for mental illness was more likely to be for depression and anxiety. Nurses liaise with a multitude of health and social agencies as part of their nursing practice. Discussion: This is the first study to capture the roles, practice and contexts of these Australian nurses. Nurses caring for people with IDD play a variety of roles and engage in a vast array of practice related to the physical and social needs of people with intellectual and developmental disability across the whole of the lifespan and in multiple, disparate contexts. Conclusion: It is important for the ongoing care of people with intellectual and developmental disability that the value added by this nursing workforce not be overlooked as disability and health policies evolve.