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Operation House Call
The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and The Arc of Massachusetts are pleased to announce the launch of a recent collaboration on Operation House Call, a unique program that for the past two decades has taught disability awareness to medical students throughout the Commonwealth.
Under OHC, a parent of a child with special needs informs students about best practices and sensitivities when caring for a patient with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD). Then, through clinical instruction, the students meet a person with I/DD and their family in a non-acute care setting. In addition, medical students go in pairs for a 2-hour home visit, where a host family opens their home and shares their personal story.
The partnership will enable Operation House Call to strengthen its program. Through its health care research in 2008, The Arc found that many adults with I/DD in Massachusetts remain with their pediatricians. OHC is crucial because it sets the foundation for health clinicians to feel comfortable providing care for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
Central to this program is the idea that families are the best teachers for health professional students. Significant learning is done in the family home, which is important as a foundation for work in the clinic and acute care environments where the advantages of comfort and time are in short supply.
Over the past 21 years, OHC has been instrumental in increasing students’ confidence, sensitivity, and interest in children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Today, OHC is run independently by The Arc of Massachusetts. Boston University’s School of Medicine also helps to fund OHC.
Bigger and Better
How It Works
Students are then provided an opportunity to apply this classroom instruction in a real-world setting - a 2-hour home visit. During the visit, students get to know an individual with I/DD personally. They may eat dinner with the family, play board games or video games and get a sense of what daily life is like for someone with a disability.
From experience, we know that ensuring that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities have access to high quality medical services often starts by educating medical students. Now, OHC allows us another vehicle to do this.
This new collaboration allows the MDSC to reach more health professional students, continuing to build our strong relationships with medical providers while giving our families and self-advocates an opportunity to personally be involved in the program.