'Do they ever think about people like us?': The experiences of people with learning disabilities in England and Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic

Scherer, N., Wiseman, P. , Watson, N. , Brunner, R., Cullingworth, J., Hameed, S., Pearson, C. and Shakespeare, T. (2022) 'Do they ever think about people like us?': The experiences of people with learning disabilities in England and Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical Social Policy, (doi: 10.1177/02610183221109147) (PMCID:PMC9240722) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

People with learning disabilities in England and Scotland have experienced an increased risk of illness and death during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on data of a longitudinal qualitative study with 71 disabled people and 31 disability organisations, this article examines the experiences of 24 people with learning disabilities in England and Scotland during the pandemic, reflecting on what rendered them vulnerable and placed them at risk. Qualitative interviews were conducted with participants and key informants at two timepoints; June–August 2020 and February–April 2021. Findings emerged across four key themes: failure to plan for the needs of people with learning disabilities; the suspension and removal of social care; the impact of the pandemic on people’s everyday routines; and lack of vaccine prioritisation. The inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities in this study are not particular to the pandemic. We explore the findings in the context of theoretical frameworks of vulnerability, including Fineman’s conceptualisation of a ‘vulnerability paradigm’. We conclude that the structured marginalisation of people with disabilities, entrenched by government action and inaction, have created and exacerbated their vulnerability. Structures, policies and action must change.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number: ES/V004069/1).
Keywords:COVID-19, disability, health, learning disabilities, vulnerability.
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brunner, Dr Richard and Wiseman, Dr Phillippa and Cullingworth, Dr Jane and Watson, Professor Nicholas and Pearson, Dr Charlotte
Authors: Scherer, N., Wiseman, P., Watson, N., Brunner, R., Cullingworth, J., Hameed, S., Pearson, C., and Shakespeare, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Critical Social Policy
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0261-0183
ISSN (Online):1461-703X
Published Online:27 June 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Critical Social Policy 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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