DisDAT- Identifying distress in people with communication difficulties
What is DisDAT?
DisDAT stands for Disability Distress Assessment Tool. DisDAT documents the signs and behaviours of an individual so that if they have a permanent or temporary difficulty with communication, distress can be clearly identified.
Why is DisDAT helpful?
If an individual struggles to communicate their needs, they can find difficult or impossible for healthcare professional to understand when and if they are distressed. Relatives and carers often pick up the signs and behaviours of distress, but can find it difficult to persuade healthcare professionals that the individual’s behaviour is due to distress and not their condition. DisDAT increases the confidence of carers in their ability to identify distress, and helps convince healthcare professionals that the problem is distress.
Who can benefit from DisDAT?
Many conditions can cause difficulties in communication such as dementia, learning disability, cerebral palsy, brain damage and a wide range of conditions that cause progressive damage to the central nervous system. For some the communication difficulties are severe and permanent, but for others the difficulties only occur when they are unwell.
Is this a pain tool?
No. DisDAT makes no assumptions about the cause of distress. This is because the response to distress varies considerably between individuals. Fortunately each individual responds to distress in a specific way which can be documented on DisDAT.
Is DisDAT used in the UK?
Yes. DisDAT is used in many learning disability services in the UK. It has also been used in people with dementia and in some children and young people with progressive neurological conditions.
How do I use DisDAT?
DisDAT is completed by relatives and carers who know the individual. The aim is to document their reactions when they are content and when they are distressed. It is then possible to use DisDAT to identify the cause of distress. Sometimes the context makes the cause obvious, but when the cause is unclear DisDAT can be used to identify patterns of distress and to monitor the response to interventions to treat the distress. DisDAT also includes a ‘Distress Passport’ summary page which can be copied and shown to healthcare professionals to help them understand an individual’s response to distress.
Where can I get DisDAT?
The tool can be downloaded for free on www.disdat.co.uk.
For further information and if you have any questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Claud Regnard, FRCP. Honorary Consultant in Palliative Care, St.
Oswald’s Hospice (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and volunteer trainer, Wirral St. John’s Hospice (Clatterbridge, Wirral).