Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Research reveals impact of pandemic on disabled people’s lives

Research by the BBC, which surveyed more than 3,300 people, has found that thousands of deaf and disabled people’s lives were devastated by the pandemic.

The findings reveal the extent of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with hundreds of people contacting the BBC to share their story.

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More than 2,400 of the people surveyed said their regular, often vital, medical appointments had been cancelled. The survey also found:

  • 2,604 disabled people said their mental health had got worse
  • 2,427 said their disability had deteriorated
  • 683 said all of their appointments had been cancelled or they were unable to attend
  • 241 disabled people said they had not left the house at all

The findings reveal that disabled people’s needs “had been forgotten”

Personal testimonies exposed how difficult it was for some autistic people to have their routines disrupted. In an interview with the BBC, 18-year-old Leah, who is autistic, tells the interviewers how she tried to take her own life after lockdown restrictions sent her into crisis.

She explains that the restrictions meant she was forced to make thousands of small decisions every day, which put her under an enormous amount of pressure. “It was even little things like, in the morning and the afternoon I would go for a walk to take the dog, now you can only choose one, which one do I choose? I can’t make that decision … And there are thousands of those little decisions, those little changes and I just couldn’t go forward anymore because I didn’t know how to handle all the emotions within me,” she said.

Other people surveyed said their support networks disappeared and their hours of care were cut, leaving them completely isolated and alone. These issues hugely affected the lives of those who depend on support and care, often affecting their mental health.

The BBC state that access to healthcare was also a huge issue. One woman said she was told not to go to hospital, as if she contracted Covid this would put her more at risk. Another family said care for their disabled daughter had stopped, while their father who contracted Covid was offered a range of treatments.

The research puts the issues that deaf, disabled and autistic people faced during the pandemic into sharp focus, with disabled charity Scope saying the study has confirmed that disabled people’s needs “had been forgotten”.

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