Simulation training to support healthcare professionals to meet the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities

Publication piece on the development of a training course for healthcare staff working with people with intellectual disabilities.

Billon, G., Attoe, C., Marshall-Tate, K., Riches, S., Wheildon, J., & Cross, S. (2016)


  • While 2-3 per cent of the UK population has an intellectual disability, only one in five of this population is known to specialist services
  • People with intellectual disabilities receive less healthcare screening and less access to health promotion activities and material
  • This training course has the potential to facilitate learning and professional development for a cross-section of health and social care professionals involved in the care of people with intellectual disabilities.



The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of education and training in addressing health inequalities in intellectual disabilities, before examining innovative approaches to healthcare education. Preliminary findings of a simulation training course to support healthcare professionals to work with people with intellectual disability are then presented.


This study employed a mixed methods design to assess the impact of the simulation course. Quantitative data were collected using the Healthcare Skills Questionnaire and a self-report confidence measure; qualitative data were collected using post-course survey with free text responses to open questions.


Healthcare skills and confidence showed statistical improvements from pre- to post-course. Qualitative analyses demonstrated that participants perceived improvements to: attitudes, communication skills, reasonable adjustments, interprofessional and multi-disciplinary working, knowledge of key issues in working with people with intellectual disabilities.


Encouraging findings imply that simulation training to address health inequalities in intellectual disabilities is a valuable resource that merits further development. This training should be rolled out more widely, along with ongoing longitudinal evaluation via robust methods to gauge the impact on participants, their workplaces, and people with intellectual disabilities.


Return to R&D