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