Coronavirus: information and updates

Disabled people fear they are being forgotten by Government and their lives put at risk

63 per cent of disabled people concerned they won’t get the hospital treatment they need if they become ill with coronavirus 
Over a quarter of disabled people (28 per cent) feel forgotten or ignored by the government 
Many fear catching coronavirus in their own home from carers or personal assistants who do not have personal protective equipment (PPE)

The disability equality charity Scope today reveals alarming new evidence about the fears and experiences of disabled people during the coronavirus pandemic. It coincides with the charity launching its We Won’t Be Forgotten campaign, calling on MPs and Government to listen to the voices of disabled people and take action to prioritise their needs.      

The survey of 585 disabled adults [1] carried out by Savanta ComRes on behalf of Scope found disabled people have said that: 
 
More personal protective equipment (PPE) for carers should be the number one priority for government. A fifth (21 per cent) ranked the need for more PPE as their most important concern, above access to food and financial support.   
A fifth (19 per cent) of disabled people who are receiving social care or support from a Personal Assistant (PAs), are worried about catching the virus from a carer 
This situation is taking its toll on mental health. Over half (59 per cent) are concerned for the future, and 57 per cent feel more stressed and anxious. 
In a separate study the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers [2] found that just over 30 per cent of health care professionals and nearly half (48 per cent) of personal assistants have not worn PPE when making home visits.  This is putting some disabled people unnecessarily at risk of catching coronavirus and creating undue stress and anxiety about receiving vital support.
 
These findings come on the back of disabled people having do not resuscitate notices placed on them without their knowledge, and GP surgeries and clinical commissioning groups issuing individual and blanket orders.  
 
Scope is also concerned about the relaxation of the duty of care on Local Authorities which means some disabled adults will not have their needs met during the outbreak. At least seven councils have enacted powers in the Coronavirus Act so far to give themselves the power to not carry out assessments and delay or reduce the provision of social care.  
 
Hannah Deakin, 29 who has a rare illness called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, said:  
 “I live with my parents and am a powerchair user. I need almost 24/7 care, which I was getting from four Personal Assistants (PA). But because of the virus situation, I now only have support from two PAs. 
“Understanding the situation, what people are entitled to, and what I should be doing for the personal assistants I have can be confusing. There are new rules and regulations around the coronavirus and there are a lot of challenges understanding how it affects me and what my responsibilities are. 
“I’ve been told if I got coronavirus or symptoms, my PAs could continue to look after me, but only if I provide them the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If the NHS don’t have enough equipment and they’re struggling, how are individual disabled people supposed to manage?"
 
Ajay Yadav, 42, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, said:
“My condition causes my muscles to get progressively weaker, and my spine to curve. Together they mean I have breathing difficulties and am prone to respiratory infections.  
 “I haven’t been out of the house for seven weeks, and it’s a difficult time. I work and that does give me some routine but it’s extremely tough and isolating.  
 “At the beginning of the outbreak I was called by a paramedic attached to my GP, and he asked me if I caught coronavirus whether I would want to be treated in a hospital. And if I got to the stage where I was going to die would I prefer to be at home or hospital. 
 “I don’t have a ventilator, intravenous antibiotics or the necessary medical expertise at home. It felt like I was being lined up not to receive treatment when I might need it most.”
 
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive at disability equality charity Scope said:  
 
“We are concerned that disabled people’s fears are going unheard, which is why today we are launching our ‘We won’t be forgotten’ campaign. 
 
“Disabled people are not only facing the fear of contracting coronavirus, many are also considering the terrifying prospect that they may not receive treatment if they become unwell. It is unacceptable that disabled people are enduring this uncertainty and anxiety. 
 
“Disabled people are worried about the risks they face in their own home, as the carers they depend on may pass on the virus because they are not equipped with PPE. Many disabled people rely on carers to do the basics in life like getting up and getting dressed. They have no choice but to be in close contact with carers who, without PPE, may be putting their lives at risk. The government must urgently prioritise the provision of suitable and sufficient supplies of PPE for social care staff and personal assistants. 
 
“We are very concerned that at least seven local authorities have chosen to enact the powers of the Coronavirus Act which temporarily suspends their key duty to meet the needs of disabled people and carers during the outbreak. This risks leaving some disabled people with only basic support, or even none at all, at a point where they may need it most.  
 
“We are all going through a period of immense upheaval, but local and central government strategies for managing the impact of coronavirus should not come at the expense of the rights, freedoms, and lives of disabled people.
 
“Disabled people and their rights must not be forgotten.”
 
-ENDS-
 
For more information please contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email pressoffice@scope.org.uk
 
For out-of-hours press enquiries please call 0784 3467 948.
 
Notes to Editor 
 
We’re Scope and we want equality for disabled people. We provide practical and emotional information and support when it’s needed most and we campaign relentlessly to create a fairer society. For more information go to: www.scope.org.uk 
 
References:  
 
[1]. Savanta ComRes interviewed 585 disabled people aged 18+ in the UK online from the 17th to 20th April 2020. This sample fell out naturally via a larger sample 2,025 UK adults aged 18+ demographically representative of UK adults by age, gender, region and social grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
[2]. RiDC Covid-19 Survey - UK-wide, survey by Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) of 816 of its panel members (conducted between April 27 and 1 May 2020)
 
 

 
Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window