Training on Accommodating People with Mental Disabilities at the HUG

Train medical and support staff in treating patients with intellectual disabilities in consideration of their specific situations


In 2012, a multidisciplinary team called “Project Handicap” was created at the HUG in response to the assessment that adults with disabilities – especially those with an intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and/or multiple disabilities – were not receiving the same quality of treatment as other patients. At that point it became clear that the support staff lacked knowledge about the specific needs of this patient population, that it was difficult to communicate information pertaining to these patients, and that building structures were inadequately designed. Several measures were taken thanks to the group, including specialized training, new communication models, and architectural modifications.
Despite these initial strides, treatment for patients with disabilities is still not optimal. Several actions still need to be taken by support staff, medical teams, and administrative staff.



The project consists of developing the processes implemented by the “Project Handicap” team by creating a two-year appointment for a nurse or case manager specialized in intellectual disabilities. This person’s active role with patients, caregivers, and medical teams will allow for better application of the previously implemented measures. With this person’s support, the improvement in treatment should alleviate the stress created when someone doesn’t understand the care and testing they are receiving. The effectiveness of this intervention will be measured, and if confirmed, the HUG will take over the funding for this position.


Project manager

Dr. Anne-Chantal Héritier Barras, Deputy Head Physician and Clinical Professor, Medical Directorate, Geneva University Hospitals