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Inter-sectoral collaboration in the context of supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are frail

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Pages 26-38
Accepted 03 Dec 2019
Published online: 20 Apr 2020


There has been a steady growth in the population of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, some of whom are known to age prematurely; aging is also associated with increased rates of disability and chronic conditions that can lead to frailty. Supports provided by social and health sectors are crucial to supporting those identified as frail. A case study design was used to investigate the implementation of inter-sectoral collaboration between providers of services from specific social and health sectors; namely, developmental services (aka disability services) and home care services, in the context of supporting those identified as frail. Twenty-three participants (including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, family members, and providers from both sectors) were interviewed using an open-ended format targeting known conditions for effective inter-sectoral collaboration: necessity, opportunity, capacity, relationships, planned action, and sustained outcomes. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded by two independent researchers. All participants touched on key facilitators and barriers for successful inter-sectoral collaboration across the six conditions. A single exception occurred in that individuals and families did not discuss sustained outcomes. Each of the six conditions for effective inter-sectoral collaboration is relevant to planning required to support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are frail. When it comes to collaborative ventures between social and healthcare teams, the use of resources and tools that both facilitate and promote these conditions should be prioritised.


We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the people who took part in this study, and the organisations that supported the work, including Reena and Marcy Centre. In inviting us to examine their processes, the participating organisations demonstrated innovation and leadership in this area.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Additional information


This research was funded by Canadian Frailty Network (Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network) under Grant [CAT2018-35], which is supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, and by Reena.

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