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This eLearning course is intended for non-clinical caretakers who require fundamental knowledge on the Fatal Five fundamentals in order to provide appropriate care and support.

IntellectAbility collaborated with the University of Georgia and Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, with guidance from the Department of Justice, to produce a series of eLearn courses discussing the Fatal Five conditions considered preventable causes of death in people with IDD. This online course is part of our comprehensive spectrum of developmental disabilities training resources, and includes targeted training for staff working with intellectually or developmentally disabled adults and children.

What Are the Fatal Five Conditions?

The Fatal Five (previously known as the Fatal Four) refers to the top five conditions linked to preventable deaths of persons in congregate care settings or in community-based residential settings. While the issues can differ in order of frequency depending on the population being represented, the five conditions most likely to result in death or health deterioration for persons with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities are:




bowel obstruction







What You’ll Gain

Being aware of the Fatal Five fundamentals is critical for providing adequate support and for appropriately targeting treatment needs. While this eLearning course will assist all agency staff, it is intended for training non-clinical support staff in the support of adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Through this course, agency staff and caregivers are empowered to rapidly spot the top five conditions linked to preventable deaths of persons in congregate care settings or in community-based residential settings, and to take appropriate action.

Students can move at their own pace while exploring videos, interactive exercises and visual aids. To assist in training, this course features content designed to engage the student while improving learning retention.

Targeted Learning

Self-paced eLearning designed to give clinical support staff to Nurse Practitioners insight into the unique health risks of those with IDD.

Helping Those With IDD

We provide tools and training to those who support people with vulnerabilities helping them replace risk with health and wellness.

Empowering Agency Staff

Designed to empower agency staff of all educational levels to observe, make informed decisions and take preventive action.

Synopsis by Module


This module covers the fundamentals of Aspiration. Included are the anatomy of the airway and how positioning and safe-eating techniques can reduce the risk of foreign-body airway obstruction.

After this module, you should be able to:

Bowel Obstruction

This module covers the fundamentals of Bowel Obstruction and the related conditions of fecal impactions and constipation. It discusses the causes, signs, symptoms and what support staff can do to prevent or support them.

After this module, you should be able to:


This module covers the causes and risks of dehydration. It includes the signs that staff should watch for and discusses what should be done when.

After this module, you should be able to:


This module provides staff with the basic information they need on seizure types and manifestations along with direction on what to do before, during and after a seizure.

After this module, you should be able to:


This module teaches staff about the severe risks from infection including how to prevent it, how to spot when it happens and what can happen if it is not treated. Infection is focused on as a precursor to sepsis, which is one of the ways an infection can become fatal.

After this module, you should be able to:


This module covers the essential information on Gastroesophageal Reflux or GERD. It covers the causes, risks and actions that can minimize those risks, especially aspiration.

After this module, you should be able to:

When to Act

This module covers common conditions that may be present in persons with I/DD, such as skin conditions, diabetes, falls and other common scenarios. It covers each separate scenario in detail and when and how to act for each.

After this module, you should be able to:

Real student feedback

“I would definitely recommend this training to my direct support staff.“ M.C.

“This training is significant for health care providers, but equally significant to direct care workers, families, caregivers.” L.C.

“Wish a lot more people knew about this training. I will be passing it on.” S.P.

“I think this program is excellent and think all people in leadership should have to complete this training. It has broadened my scope of concerns. I know better how to watch for health care signals and to care better for clients. I have taken this every year and hope that more people will take advantage of this training.” R.M.

“Our staff enjoyed this training. Very thorough and engaging. Would highly recommend to others in our unique caregiving position.” F.C.

“This program was perfect for our team and I’ve shared with a few colleagues as well. We feel more confident and the training helped our support staff understand ways to provide our clients with a better level of care.” H.G.

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