DIDD Releases New Training to Improve Care for People With Disabilities

Friday, October 02, 2015 | 10:43am

NASHVILLE— The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) debuted important new training for families, caregivers, and medical professionals to improve the outcomes of medical care for people with disabilities.  The training, developed in partnership with TennCare and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC), takes a close look at challenging behavior and mental health concerns in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the over-prescription of powerful, mind-altering medications.

The training has two separate tracks: one for family members and other caregivers and another for medical professionals.  Both are based on the IDD Toolkit, an online resource for health care information about people with IDD.  Medical professionals earn free continuing education credits while families and caregivers learn important lessons to make medical appointments more effective. 

Participants watch short videos that include clips depicting simulated medical appointments and commentary from a family practitioner, a psychologist, a parent, and others.  Video topics are specific to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities including communication, physical health issues and alternative treatments that do not use prescriptions. 

 “When looking at people with IDD, you have a population that can be extremely difficult to diagnose for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Tom Cheetham, DIDD Deputy Commissioner of Health Services.  “Combine that with practitioners who don’t receive much training on this specialized population, and you end up with too many patients taking unnecessary medications.”

The development of similar training sessions for medical professionals, parents, and other caregivers has the goal of establishing a partnership to make medical visits easier on everyone involved and to produce better care for the patient.

“The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is happy to be a partner in this important initiative to increase the capacity of health care providers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. One of our focuses is health care, and we know that too many people with disabilities and their families still don’t have access to quality health care in Tennessee,” said Elise McMillan, JD, Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

The training is part of a broader effort by DIDD and TennCare to provide high quality services and supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Other improvements include new behavioral health crisis prevention, intervention and stabilization services; changes in pharmacy prior authorization processes to encourage the use of more appropriate non-pharmacological interventions; and a new home and community based services program that will promote and support employment and integrated independent living as the first and preferred option for these individuals.

”TennCare’s focus is on ensuring value in the delivery of health care services for all of our members,” said Dr. Vaughn Frigon , TennCare Chief Medical Officer.  “We are pleased to work with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and with DIDD to offer tools that will help our providers and the people we serve. This project is an excellent example of cooperation between government agencies and private providers that will improve care.”

DIDD is expanding its role in this training with an additional series of videos called “Clinical Pearls”.  Dr. Cheetham and other health care professionals from the department address supplemental topics of value to practitioners and caregivers.  This series will be an ongoing project with new videos added to the departmental website as they are produced.

“I know from talking to colleagues that there is a huge demand for additional education in the area of IDD medicine,” said Dr. Cheetham.  “And I’m excited that our department has the capability to meet the need in an on-demand basis.”

The family/caregiver training is available at this link: http://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/vkc/healthtraining (users need to create login)

The training for medical professionals is available at this link: https://cme.mc.vanderbilt.edu/content/appropriate-use-psychotropic-medications-people-idd-helping-individuals-get-best-behavioral  Medical professionals will need to enroll in the VCME system.  

Additional training in the “Clinical Pearls” series developed by DIDD is available at this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOWto7NdBRN4GoEsIMhzkEHg3hI2Xf7l4