Policy Submission: Social Development Committee Enquiry on Comorbidity
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JFA Purple Orange made this submission to the Social Development Committee in 2014.
Comorbidity, based on the description in the Committee’s terms of reference for this enquiry, relates to a complexity of circumstances where a person living with intellectual disability or acquired brain injury is also experiencing issues of mental illness or chronic substance misuse. Each circumstance by itself represents an increase in the person's vulnerability. The presence of more than one such circumstance can create a ‘more-than-the-sum’ effect on the person's vulnerability.
For example, service responses to mental illness can be anchored on the principle of recovery. However this can sometimes seem difficult to reconcile for a person who lives with intellectual disability or enduring brain injury where the notion of recovery is more problematic.
Similarly, service responses to chronic substance misuse can be anchored on notions of the role of purposeful decision-making and a corresponding momentum to change habits. However, this can seem difficult to reconcile for a person whose intellectual disability or enduring brain injury can lead to complicating considerations because of diminished capacity for decision-making and habit-changing.
Having considered the context of a good life, and the link between co-morbidity and increased vulnerability, this submission now considers the main elements in the Committee’s terms of reference.