Disabilities and Chronic Health Conditions
There is a high co-morbidity between disability and chronic health conditions. This co-morbidity creates a vicious spiral of ever-increasing functional restriction and diminished health for the individual and is a growing challenge to health and social service systems. This program seeks to address increasing functional restrictions with its concurrent decrease in ability to participate in family and community life for both people who have lived with disabilities all their lives and for those with more recently acquired disability due to chronic health conditions or accident.
Over the last decade, with the rise in life expectancy and the progress in medical and rehabilitative technology, the number of people with disabilities that suffer from chronic illness is rising as well. People living with disability (congenital or acquired) are at higher risk for chronic health conditions than the general population: e.g. heart and cardiovascular diseases 6.5 times higher; diabetes 3.5 times higher; high blood pressure 2.3 times higher (from the Masad Planning Report).
While people with disabilities use healthcare services at higher rates than the general population, access issues (e.g. mammogram machine not accessible for woman who cannot stand) and misperceptions and stereotypes about disability often cause chronic conditions to go undetected until they are serious or life threatening. A disabled person with a chronic illness faces increasing limitations on activity and participation.
Moreover, we see an increase in the number of people suffering from chronic and degenerative illnesses whose ability to function in their daily lives is in decline. These changes may occur suddenly or incrementally, and may be temporary or permanent. For example, people with diabetes face complications such as decrease in visual function (retinopathy) and foot sores that can lead to amputation.
The rising rates of chronic health conditions and the ever-younger ages people are dealing with these conditions, is increasing the number of people living with severe functional impairments and acquired disabilities as well as the number of years they live with these disabilities. For example, the percentage of members of the Supportive Community for the Disabled program (a partnership of the Ministry of Social Affairs, JDC and municipalities), who have a chronic health conditions that has led to severe functional impairment/disability is growing.
This area has two major programmatic directions:
1) Health Promotion Among People with Disabilities and Chronic Illness
There is a growing body of literature showing that health promotion/prevention programs can reduce risk factors and improve the ability to function in daily life. It can bring significant savings to the health and social service systems. The report of the special committee dedicated to disability issues as part of the "Healthy Future 20/20" program of the Israeli Ministry of Health supports adopting this approach in Israel
2) People who become Functionally Disabled as Adults due to Chronic or Degenerative Illnesses and/or Accidents.
The program is intended for people caught in the disability/chronic illness net - adults with disabilities who suffer from chronic or complex illnesses, people who become functionally disabled in daily life due to chronic or degenerative illnesses, as well as professionals and family members. The health promotion/prevention focus will lead to improved functional abilities and participation in family and community life.