Belinda grew up in the Blue Mountains and attended Nepean High School. When she was young she was hit by a car. This left her with a weak side, a limp, and brain damage. Working at DARE Disability Support is her first paid job. She loves what she does, loves talking, getting the work done, and helping people.

Belinda is a project ambassador for the new My Health My Communication project.

Did you know almost 60% of people with intellectual and developmental disorders have severe communication limitations? This group of people experience a large gap in their health outcomes compared to patients who do not have a disability.

In fact, current statistics show that people with communication disorders have more than two and half times the number of health problems and two times the rate of potentially avoidable deaths and the expected lifespan of people with intellectual disabilities is 27 years less than the general population in NSW. Overall, this group face many barriers in accessing quality healthcare and more work needs to be done to close the gap.

DARE Disability Support and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District have come together to launch a new project called My Health My Communication. This project aims to improve communication between health staff in hospitals and people with intellectual disability, autism, acquired brain injury, and Down syndrome.

By improving communication in hospitals, this project aims to improve health outcomes and the patient experience for people with disabilities.

Belinda, the project ambassador, joined My Health My Communication because she likes to help and understands what it’s like to have a disability. She believes that nurses and doctors could help people with disabilities during hospital stays by, “taking more time… using easier words and simple words, and not so hard words, where they can’t understand.”

“Sometimes they need to explain things… sit down and explain, this is what’s going to happen… or show them pictures if they don’t understand.” – Belinda, Project Ambassador

As part of the project, Belinda, alongside Kathryn Woods, the project manager, will be providing training and resources to nurses and doctors. The project will originally launch in Blue Mountains Hospital before aiming to roll out to other hospitals in nearby regions.

Several key community figures have shown support for the project and are getting involved in the digital launch on our website including Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, Governor of NSW, The Honourable Gareth Ward, Minister for Families, Communities, and Disability Services, Senator the Honourable Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, and Susan Templeman Federal Member for Macquarie.

The project is still in its early phases and wants to hear from the community. They want to know about the experiences people with disabilities, their supporters, and their families have experienced in hospital and they want to know what they could do to support communication to make going to hospital better for everyone.

As of 1pm on Thursday 29th October, the My Health My Communication project is officially live and celebrating its launch online. Visit their website to see the videos, hear more about Belinda’s story, and get involved.

The My Health My Communication project is funded for 3 years by the Department of Social Services.