Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz is a trained nurse and a Professor in Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University, as well as an Epidemiologist at Ongwanada Kingston; an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities. She is also Co-Chair of Health Standards Organization (HSO)’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Technical Committee.

Formed in fall 2017, this committee made up of clinicians, patients, family members, researchers and policy-makers, has been working on the development of an updated Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Standard, which will be released soon.

Ouellette-Kuntz says that she wanted to be a part of HSO’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Technical Committee as she was pleased to see that the organization was looking into quality assessments for the improvement of services and quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “That’s what drew me to it,” she says.

Ouellette-Kuntz noted that she began her career as a home care nurse. Then as she worked towards her Master’s Degree in Epidemiology, Ouellette-Kuntz worked on a part-time basis in one of Ongwanada’s group homes. “Now, I’ve been doing research in this field for almost 30 years,” she said.

Ouellette-Kuntz notes that she wanted to work in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities as she was touched by meeting people with these disabilities. “[It was] seeing them with the challenges they face but also, seeing what they have to offer to society and wanting to make a difference in their lives,” she says.

In terms of the Technical Committee, Ouellette-Kuntz said that it brought together all the sectors of health care that are involved in this field as well as social services.

For example, Ouellette-Kuntz notes that when considering aspects of social inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it’s something that involves everyone; from family members, to service providers, to educators. “It’s something that touches every aspect of a person’s life,” Ouellette-Kuntz says.

Ouellette-Kuntz says that a significant contribution of Technical Committee members was pointing to the latest research and literature related to the social inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “That became very important in the discussions we had,” Ouellette-Kuntz said. She adds that throughout the new standard’s development process, each Technical Committee member was engaged, sharing their own expertise or lived experience.

She also noted that being part of the new standard’s translation process was exciting. “It’s been very helpful and exciting to be able to converse amongst francophones in the committee to sort out how some of the terminology should be translated from English to French,” Ouellette-Kuntz says.

She added that she wanted to commend the work of the staff at HSO as they helped the committee to be productive throughout the standard’s development process. “They’ve been quite remarkable in bringing the Technical Committee together to work so productively,” she said. “It’s been a real pleasure to do this work.”

The new Intellectual and Disabilities Services Standard will be available for purchase on HSO’s E-Store.

Do you have significant, first-hand experience or extensive academic knowledge of a health or social services sector? Consider joining one of HSO’s Technical Committees. See the Technical Committees that are recruiting members, and help HSO unleash the power and potential of people around the world who share our passion for achieving quality health services for all.