Covid-19: our third survey into the impact on disabled and older people

Letter from the government about COVID-19 restrictions
8 Jun 2020

Sixty-three days have passed since we first asked our panel of 1,600 disabled and older people about the impact the newly introduced COVID-19 restrictions were having.

In those early days it would have been impossible to predict the far-reaching effect the restrictions would have made to our day to day lives.

Over three surveys, RiDC have tracked the impact on disabled and older people and their experiences and attitudes towards a range of issues. This is our last survey in this series and over the coming weeks we will shift our focus to the recovery stages of coming out of lockdown and how this can be shaped by disabled and older people.

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Two thirds (65%) of ‘shielders’ are extremely uncomfortable or uncomfortable about leaving the house.

Our third COVID-19 survey went live the day the restrictions for people on the NHS Shielded Patient list were lifted. In addition to people’s unease about leaving the house, we found that only one in ten had any communications from their GP or NHS following the easing of restrictions.

“The government advice has been giving mixed messages so I do not trust them when they say I can leave my house”

A graph showing the attitudes of disabled and older people towards the government's performance during COVID-19
Source: RiDC April, May, June 2020

Over the three surveys we have seen a negative shift in people’s attitudes towards the performance of government doing a good job in relation to disabled and older people.  At the end of March, 45% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the government is doing a good job, whereas now (the beginning of June) this has risen to 60%.   

There are emerging concerns about keeping active and physical health but not seeing family is still the most significant concern.

There has been a consistent concern over all three surveys related to seeing family. However, as restrictions have eased and people adapt, seeing friends, accessing food and medicine are not as prominent issues now, compared to the start of lockdown.

Physical health and keeping active are areas of concern that are becoming more prevalent for disabled and older people (18% and 15% of respondents respectively are extremely concerned about this issue).

 “Mentally it's getting harder to cope with the depression that comes over me in the evenings, this then affects me physically meaning my mobility and general well-being”

In our first survey we asked respondents what they would be most concerned about if the lockdown lasted for three months. Almost half of respondents in that first survey were extremely concerned about not seeing family (46%). This is still the most significant concern; however other concerns are beginning to be reported such as accessing medical appointments and medicine (42% and 38% respectively).

Health and care professionals/PAs are wearing more PPE compared to four weeks ago.

We asked if health and care professionals or PA’s wore personal protection equipment (PPE) when visiting. For health and care professionals, four weeks ago, 69% were wearing PPE. The figure has risen to 88%. A small improvement was seen for PAs, with 60% now wearing PPE (compared to 51% four weeks ago). But concerns still exist.

“I have carers twice a day but the agency like many others is experiencing staff not wanting to work because they will be in contact with patients discharged from the hospital who still have the virus.  I have tried to get my own PPE for extra help, but the costs are prohibitive.”

31% of respondents are concerned about the level of care they are currently receiving or about how it is provided (this was 38% four weeks ago.)

Getting access to food has been a recurring theme throughout all three surveys. Supermarket deliveries are improving, although some people are still experiencing difficulties.

Over half of respondents (52%) use a supermarket delivery service. At the end of March only 15% felt that supermarkets had performed extremely well. This figure has now risen to 35% (only 5% believe they are performing very poorly). Nevertheless, getting delivery slots remains difficult, especially for those not on the Government’s vulnerable list.

“I am not able to have a priority booking for a delivery slot. No slots available for me and I'm 60, widowed, living alone, too disabled/immune deficient to safely shop for myself.”


If you would like further information on this survey or engaging RiDC to do research please email Gordon at