Coronavirus and people with learning disabilities study

Universities across the UK have published the first part of a major study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with learning disabilities.

The Coronavirus and People with Learning Disabilities Study found that:

  • More than 50% of people in the study with learning disabilities had health conditions that were of concern if they had COVID-19. The most common health conditions were asthma and epilepsy
  • 72% of people with learning disabilities reported that they were staying in touch with important people in their lives as much as they wanted.
  • Over 65% of people with learning disabilities had felt angry or frustrated, sad or down, and worried or anxious at least some of the time in the four weeks before they took part in the study.
  • 50% of people with learning disabilities were at least a little worried to leave the house.
  • More people with learning disabilities were concerned about their family and friends catching COVID-19 than were worried about catching it themselves.

Responding to the report, ELCAP Chief Executive Paul White said:

“While we have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to pay particular attention to the experience of individuals with learning disabilities.  We welcomed the study and are considering its findings with interest.

Some of the individuals we support have found it difficult to understand what COVID-19 means for them and their loved ones.  Others have found lockdown restrictions a challenge and are missing activities they enjoyed previously.  But many have adapted really well to the ‘new normal’ and are pursuing new hobbies and interests.

From an ELCAP perspective, we will continue to tailor our support to the ambitions and needs of the individuals we work with.  Everyone is different, so it’s important to remind ourselves that people will respond to the pandemic in their own way.”

The research focused on three key questions:

  1. What are the wellbeing, health and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including social restrictions and changes to how people are supported, on the lives of adults with learning disabilities across the UK over time?
  2. What actionable factors are associated with better outcomes for different groups of people with learning disabilities?
  3. What urgent issues concerning people with learning disabilities are emerging over time?

An easy-read version of the report uses plain words and pictures, while highlights from the full report are also available.