The impact of Covid-19 on people with complex disabilities

This page shows findings from our 2022 research. For more recent findings, see our Potential and Possibility research.

As part of our Potential and Possibility research, we asked people with complex disabilities about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on them.

To make sure that people are able to achieve their potential in the future, we must learn more about how the pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people. This means putting disabled people at the heart of this year’s Covid inquiry.

Isolation and lack of support services

46% of people with complex disabilities told us that they felt more lonely and socially isolated because of the pandemic.

36% did not receive the social care support they needed and 33% were not able to get their social care needs assessed.

“I have been much more isolated as my services shut down for periods of time (months at a time). As I am considered clinically extremely vulnerable, I have had very little informal interaction outside my home, or access to the community.”

However, for some people the move to online activities was welcome because that was easier for them to get involved in.

“I became socially active because everyone moved online. I could spend all day online talking to people and doing activities with people.”

Getting the right information and guidance

38% of people with complex disabilities told us that they had not received guidance from government that was relevant to their situation and needs.

“I feel I have been left out, no support, worries about my wellbeing and so stressful not knowing what is going to happen… how do we contact [people] if we need help, food shopping etc.”

Impact on health and medical treatments

53% of people with complex disabilities told us that their health had been negatively affected and 48% had medical treatments delayed as a result of the pandemic.

“Haven’t been able to see my GP in two years, my mum calls and hardly ever gets through. When I have been poorly Covid is immediately blamed even though it is an ongoing health issue like a tracheostomy/chest infection for which I am well known to get.”

5 people stand with a petition box in front of 10 Downing St

Disabled people must be part of the official Covid-19 inquiry

This year, there’ll be a public inquiry into how the UK handled the pandemic. We’re calling for disabled people and their families to be at the heart of the inquiry.

From difficulties accessing food to reduced care, the pandemic has exposed a lot of existing inequalities and new issues for disabled people.

Did you know that 6 out of 10 people who have died from Covid-19 are disabled?

But it’s not too late. Together, we can change things.

Read more about the campaign.

About this research

Potential and Possibility is an annual piece of research on the experiences and aspirations of people with complex disabilities. The research involves polling, our own survey and insights from audits of Sense services. This year (2023) is the second year we have carried out this research.  

This page reflects our findings from the 2022 round of research.

If you have any questions about the research please contact [email protected].