Covid-19: latest research into the impact on disabled and older people

6 May 2020

Lack of confidence in the government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak is growing. 

Our latest research found that over half (52%) of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the government is doing enough to support them during this crisis (four weeks ago the figure was 44%).

This is just one finding to emerge from the second, UK-wide, survey of our  1,665 panel members  which was conducted between 27th April and 1st May 2020. Like our first survey, panel members answered a range of questions about the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on them.  

People continue to self-isolate with numbers being largely consistent between surveys (59% at the end of March, 57% at the end of April).

Being on the Government’s 'Vulnerable List' can provide people with the extra support they might need, such as essential groceries being delivered. 51% of responses felt they should be on the government’s vulnerable list, with 29% being currently registered and only 26% having received NHS Shielded Patient Letters.  

‘Not being 'unwell' enough to be on the official vulnerable persons’ database. I have COPD and Asthma but as I control it well I am just under the criteria to be within the ‘vulnerable group’… the issue I have is that I am still disabled, receiving PIP and have direct payments to pay for a carer… I have severe mobility issues but as I am not on the ‘vulnerable’ group list I cannot order shopping to be delivered. I cannot stand in a queue so going to the supermarket is not an option.  I have a choice…my carer giving me personal care, or my carer going to get my food.” 

The research also found there has been a decrease in levels of support from professional care providers as a result of the government's restrictions. Four weeks ago, 50% of respondents were no longer receiving home visits from health care professionals. This has now risen  very slightly to 51%. The reduction in support for disabled people at home is having a significant impact.  

“The company that provide the PA have been told by the Government they can no longer do it until the lockdown is taken away.” 

A  further complication to this situation is the variable use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Just over 30% of health care professionals and nearly half (48%) of personal assistants have not worn PPE when making home visits.   

“I have, temporarily, changed my routine such that I can manage (with my wife’s assistance) on my own. I don’t want random carers from an agency coming into my home. I don’t want risk of Covid being brought into my home.” 

“I have only just received some PPE from my local council. I've had to spend a lot trying to source items myself. I can't afford to buy more. There is no guidance for Direct Payment Disabled People about PPE, shopping, care, medical issues, nothing! I wrote to my MP 5 weeks ago but still no news from her.” 

We also asked about attending medical appointments and getting prescriptions. Four in ten respondents (39%) who have needed to see or get in touch with a healthcare professional for a medical consultation or treatment, have experienced difficulty in obtaining them.

The research found that one in ten respondents (10.5%) are having to do without their usual prescriptions or medication because of the restrictions. 

“Struggling as recently diagnosed with cancer, operation cancelled, so very worried about own health & whether will get treated, worry that my age & disability are against me currently getting cancer treatment” 

“At the moment I have terrible bowel problems and am very uncomfortable but can't see a doctor to examine me but I don't feel safe going to the practice or even receiving a home visit as I am at risk.” 


Download the full results

Download a summary of the results

Download an analysis of experiences of shopping

Download some selected comments


For more information about the research, please contact Eric Harris, RiDC Head of Research: