The experiences of adults with learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Samantha Flynn, Sue Caton , Amanda Gillooly, Jill Bradshaw , Richard Hastings , Chris Hatton , Andrew Jahoda, Peter Mulhall, Stuart Todd, Stephen Beyer, Laurence Taggart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
This paper presents data about the experiences of adults with learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic across the UK.

Methodology
Interviews were conducted with 609 adults with learning disabilities. Family carers and support staff of another 351 adults with learning disabilities completed a proxy online survey. The data were collected between December 2020 and February 2021 and concerned both worries/negatives and anything positive that had happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Findings
Social isolation was the most commonly reported worry/negative for adults with learning disabilities, with other frequently reported worries/negatives including: changes to/loss of routine; loss of support, clubs, or services; decreased health, wellbeing, or fitness; and, worries about themselves or other people getting COVID-19. A large proportion of participants indicated that nothing positive had happened because of COVID-19, but for participants who did report a positive, this most commonly included: digital inclusion; more time spent with important people; improved health; wellbeing, and fitness; and, a slower pace of life.

Implications
Future pandemic planning must ensure that adults with learning disabilities are supported to maintain social contact with the people who matter to them, and to support their health and wellbeing (including maintaining access to essential services and activities). Some adults with learning disabilities may benefit from additional support to improve their digital confidence and access. This may in turn enable them to maintain contact with family, friends, and support services/activities.

Originality
This is the largest study about the experiences of adults with learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We primarily collected data directly from adults with learning disabilities, and worked with partner organisations of people with learning disabilities throughout the study.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTizard Learning Disability Review
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Sep 2021

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