The national disability charity, Sense, has undertaken research into how disabled people and their carers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The research has found that more than two thirds of family carers have experiences a knock to their mental health during the pandemic.
A large part of the Covid research by Sense, was a survey of over 1000 parents, family members or loved ones who care for a disabled person. The survey found 75% of family carers believe that the needs of disabled people and their families have been neglected by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A neglected demographic desperately in need of more support
Sense reports that ‘essential support has been cut during the pandemic, often with little or no notice, and as a result, nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of carers have had to take on additional caring responsibilities.’
The survey also found that 67% of respondents experienced a deterioration in their mental health as a result of this increased pressure and responsibility during the pandemic. While almost half of respondents (45%) found that their financial security decreased and 38% reported that all this had a negative impact on their personal relationships.
The most common challenges for disabled people and their carers were:
- Accessing health support (46%)
- Increased loneliness and social isolation (45%)
- Reduced services and support (41%)
- Increased financial pressure (41%)
- Trouble accessing groceries and medical essentials (32%)
Following these findings, Sense and those who took part in the research are calling for more attention given to disabled people, their families and carers in next years Covid Inquiry. Sense said ‘more than 79% of carers say that next year’s Covid Inquiry can help the Government and society learn from and address the inequalities that disabled people and carers face.’
Sense have since launched a petition with three main points of action:
- ‘A key section of the inquiry investigating the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people and their families, with them being invited to contribute evidence.’
- ‘A panel leading the inquiry that is representative of disabled people.’
- ‘The inquiry to be run in an accessible way so that disabled people can participate and engage with it.’
The petition has reached over 25,000 signatures, but aims to get up to 30,000.
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Speaking on the impact of the pandemic on disabled people and their families, Richard Kramer, Chief Executive of Sense has said:
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on disabled people and their families and it’s clear that any inquiry into its handling, must have them at its heart. This is an opportunity for Government and society to learn from and address the inequalities that disabled people and carers face. We must seize it and ensure they’re not again overlooked.”
Sense also included lived experience testimony from, Saeed Ahmed from Birmingham who had to take over full care responsibilities for his 22-year-old son, Azhar once the pandemic broke out, owing to the fact that his 24/7 support was dropped overnight – and still hasn’t been fully reinstated.
Saeed Ahmed said: “It’s been an extremely hard 18 months. Like many disabled people and their families, we’ve felt unsupported and have had to just muddle through. It’s so important that disabled people and their families have their experiences heard and are called to give evidence as part of the public inquiry on Covid-19. Without this, there’s a real risk that the challenges many people have faced will be overlooked. We must learn from this time if we want things to change.”
To join Sense in their petition to give disabled people, their families and carers the recognition they deserve in the public inquiry into Covid-19 next year, you can find all the information and how to sign here.