People with disabilities

People with disabilities

Disability, which can be physical, intellectual or psychological, may have existed before the cancer diagnosis or may be new in onset (occurring due to the cancer treatment or incidentally). Adjusting to life with a disability adds another challenge to cancer care and survivorship.

Several barriers prevent people with disabilities from accessing timely and effective health care (AIHW 2017):

  • physical limitations
  • competing health needs
  • the trauma of undergoing invasive procedures
  • potential barriers associated with obtaining informed consent
  • failure to provide assistance with communication
  • lack of information
  • discriminatory attitudes among healthcare staff.

In caring for people with disabilities and a cancer diagnosis, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare disability flag should be used at the point of admittance to correctly identify and meet the additional requirements of a person with disability. Facilities should actively consider access requirements, and health practitioners should make reasonable adjustments where required.

Patients aged between seven and 65 years who have a permanent or significant disability may be eligible for support or funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (National Disability Insurance Agency 2018). More information can be found on the NDIS website.

Patients aged 65 years or older (50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people) may be eligible for subsidised support and services through aged care services. An application to determine eligibility can be completed online or over the phone. More information can be found at the My Aged Care website.

More information

‘Talking End of Life’ is a resource that shows how to teach people with intellectual disability about end of life. It is designed for disability support workers but is also helpful for others including families, health professionals and educators.

To view the resource, visit the Talking End of Life website.