Family member/carer of a person with intellectual disability

The SA Intellectual Disability Health Service (SAIDHS) offers specialised medical and mental health clinical services to people with intellectual disability and complex needs. While a GP is the best person to see first if someone has concerns about their health, sometimes people with intellectual disability may need specialist health services.

Specialised medical (General Practitioner, Rehabilitation and Neurology Physicians) and mental health (Psychiatrist) clinical services are available to provide comprehensive assessment and planning to support ongoing care in the community by existing services, such as GPs and Allied Health professionals.

The SAIDHS recognises the important role families and carers have in supporting people who have an intellectual disability. Plans are developed with the person with intellectual disability and, where relevant, their families, service providers and carers. Individuals can be re-referred to the service if their medical or health needs change.


Referrals to SAIDHS are best made by a person’s GP. If you are concerned about a health issue or significant change in behaviour which is not improving with your GP’s help, you can ask your GP whether a referral to SAIDHS is needed.

If you care for someone with intellectual disability who does not have a GP, you can call us on 8257 7300 and we can let you know how we can help.

You can find out more about our service in the SAIDHS Information fact sheet (PDF 295KB).

When a person with intellectual disability is referred to our service, we complete an intake assessment, usually over the phone. Through this process we seek to gain a better understanding of how we can help by asking questions about their history, lifestyle, support plans and any recent health or behaviour changes. It is also helpful for us to speak to a family member or carer about this. We encourage family members and/or carers to attend the SAIDHS appointment with the person they care for; they form an important part of the care team.

Providing support

Carers provide support in many ways, including:

  • hygiene
  • nutrition
  • dressing
  • socialisation
  • behaviour management
  • financial management
  • simple and complex decisions
  • housing
  • appointment attendance
  • transport.

Many people don’t see themselves as carers. They may identify themselves as children, parents, partners, relatives or friends who care for someone close to them. The definition for carer (under the Australian Government Carer Recognition Act 2010) is someone who gives care and support to a relative or friend who:

  • has a disability
  • has a medical condition (terminal or chronic illness)
  • has a mental illness
  • is frail because they are old (known as ‘frail and aged’)

People who are employed to look after someone, work as a volunteer for an organisation, or are doing work experience as part of a course are not considered to be a carer.


For more information visit the resources for family members/carers page.