Health Ambassadors

Health Ambassadors thumbnail.

DSA Health Ambassadors are a group of individuals with Down syndrome, who work to inform health care workers about how best to include people with Down syndrome in their own health conversations.

DSA Health Ambassadors represent each state and territory and the most common drive amongst all these self- advocates, is to make health care workers better understand people with Down syndrome. 

The Health Ambassadors work to improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome in Australia by:

  • Informing and working with health care workers and those studying to become health workers, on how inclusive communication makes a positive difference to outcomes
  • Working with health care workers in all settings to educate them about Down syndrome
  • Telling their health stories and how good communication can make a difference
  • Presenting to health care workers and students
  • Co-designing resources for health care workers to use
  • Taking on advisory roles on health issues and research.

“When I understand it makes me feel more comfortable and I can answer your questions better. This will help any health care worker who is treating me to find the right problem and do their job better”

Kimberley Adams, DSA Health Ambassador
World Down Syndrome Congress 2021 Poster Presentation  
 
Our Project aims to educate health care workers and health students to provide better care to people with Down syndrome and intellectual disability, through inclusive communication. Who better to deliver the education, than people with Down syndrome? 
 
The Down Syndrome Australia Health Ambassadors want to make Doctors and other health care workers understand Down syndrome, so they don’t have preconceived ideas about the abilities of people with Down syndrome. This means including people with Down syndrome in their own health conversations.   
 
The Ambassadors are advisors and co-designers of health resources, feature in the Australian Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability and deliver webinars and face to face presentations about inclusive communication. They want to teach health care workers how to make a positive difference to a person’s health outcome by making small reasonable adjustments to their practice. 
 
The Ambassadors ask health professionals to:

Give us time 		 
Give us support 
Create a rapport 		 
Use language that I understood 
Use visual supports  
 
This is the difference we have already made. This is what health workers and health students have said when we have presented to them:  
  
•	Thank you for the amazing presentation and for sharing your stories, it has given me a lot more knowledge about how to communicate with and support people who have an intellectual disability.  
•	Respectful language, person first language, clear communication, give individuals the time to speak and process, identifying the communication style individuals prefer, provide support and SMILE.
•	Hearing from people with first-hand experience is a vital part of our curriculum and so enriching for our student education.
 
Core messages:  
 
Alisha: Talk to me as your patient and not my support person or worker. 
Amelia: Speak calmly and slowly and have patience when you treat us. 
Rohan: It is important for doctors to check that people understand what they tell them.
Naomi: We are individuals and need to be accepted, respected, and treated as such. 
Olivia: Include us in conversations about our health and help us feel more supported. 
Gillian: All people have differing communication styles. 
Caitlin: Be Kind and use clear communication.
Emily: Always show respect for people with disabilities.  
Kimberley: It is all about good communication! 
Hugo: Talk to me not my parents.