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Most of us live our lives without thinking of the complex skills involved in all the daily tasks we carry out. We take for granted our ability to make a cup of tea, use a bus or make new friends. But such things may be difficult for the person with an intellectual disability.

Nowhere has the enormous potential of people with intellectual disabilities been demonstrated better than at the Special Olympics World Games held in Dublin in June 2003. We saw how individuals with intellectual disability can overcome many of their difficulties and develop spectacular talents, especially when they are given the help and support to do so.

Registered Nurses Intellectual Disability (RNID) develop the ordinary life skills we all take for granted so that persons with an intellectual disability can live their lives as fully and as independently as possible.

There are about 26,700 people with intellectual disability of all ages in Ireland and their needs are diverse and sometimes complex. Intellectual disability may range from mild to profound, and individuals may also be physically challenged or have multiple disabilities. Clients may have a physical and/or sensory impairment and some may have behavioural or mental health problems. The RNID works with individual clients, families, children and adults, in the clients' homes, residential homes, respite units, day centres and their schools or workplaces. Nurses work with clients, families, and carers to promote the clients' emotional, physical and social well being, whilst respecting and advocating for their rights and dignity.

The role varies depending on the needs of the client and includes:

Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team and making referrals to them.  This team may include professionals such as: Doctors, Speech Therapists, Schoolteachers, Physiotherapists to name but a few

Advocating, particularly for people that may have difficulty in communicating

Enhancing the quality of life for people with intellectual disability

Providing support services for families

Health promotion and education of clients, families, friends and the community

Counselling, budgeting, case management

Staff education and training

Planning activities e.g. social events and holidays

Promotion of choice and autonomy.

Within the practice of intellectual disability, the use of equipment and machines is limited. It is the skilled interactions of RNIDs that provide the tools of the trade.  Indeed, it could quite accurately be described as the complete if not ultimate professional interpersonal experience.

This is a career where one can truly say; "I can make a positive difference in people's lives". 

 
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