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Coronavirus: the effect on the disabled

The coronavirus has had a disproportionate effect on disabled people, according to the results of a new survey.
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Photo: Pixabay

The Office for National Statistics has released the findings of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, designed to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on British society, which is reported on in the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain series of bulletins.

Many disabled people are in the "at-risk" groups who have been advised to take additional precautions.

For the purposes of this analysis, a person is considered to be disabled if they have a self-reported long-standing illness, condition or impairment that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. There are an estimated 13.7 million disabled people in Great Britain according to the latest available estimates

The data from across the UK shows: 

  • Almost half (45.1pc) of disabled adults, compared with around a third (30.2pc) of non-disabled adults, reported being very worried about the effect the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having on their life. Nearly 9 in 10 disabled adults (86.3pc) reported they are very worried or somewhat worried.

  • Nearly two-thirds (64.8pc) of disabled adults said COVID-19-related concerns were affecting their well-being.

  • Disabled adults were significantly more likely than non-disabled adults to report spending too much time alone; around a third (35.0pc) of disabled adults reported this compared to a fifth (19.9pc) of non-disabled adults.

  • Finding a way to stay in touch with friends and family remotely is the most popular action that is helping people cope while staying at home; however, spending time with members of their household was a less frequent form of coping for disabled (41.9pc) than non-disabled adults (63.5pc).

  • Almost 8 in 10 (77.7pc) disabled adults said they thought people were doing more to help others since the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Disabled adults are as active in supporting their communities as non-disabled adults; in the past seven days, a similar proportion of disabled (64.9pc) and non-disabled adults (63.1pc) said they had checked on neighbours who might need help at least once.

The Office of National Statistics ONS Deputy National Statistician Iain Bell said: "It’s vital to understand the needs of everyone in our society as people’s experience in this pandemic will differ. Our analysis gives insight into the experience of disabled adults, and where there might be issues that arise for some that differ from those of non-disabled people.

"We recognise these findings summarise the perspective of disabled adults, covering a broad and complex range of conditions. Everyone’s experience is different."