Disability-inclusive COVID-19 response: What it is, why it is important and what we can learn from the United Kingdom's response.

Peer-reviewed article
(2020 Apr) Wellcome Open Res, 5 79

Authors

Kuper H, Banks LM, Bright T, Davey C, Shakespeare T

Abstract

All too often, disabled people are left behind in emergencies, and this is a risk in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is an important issue, as globally there are approximately one billion people with disabilities. This number includes one in three people aged over 60, who are the group at greatest risk from COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic in the UK has highlighted additional difficulties that disabled people may face. Complying with preventative measures, like social distancing, can be challenging, particular for people who rely on carers. Disabled people may also be at greater risk of morbidity and mortality if they contract the virus, yet in danger of being de-prioritised for care. Many people with disabilities have ongoing healthcare needs, and these need to still be supported during the pandemic. Furthermore, people may become newly disabled as a result of the pandemic, and therefore require appropriate care. Good practice examples have emerged for meeting these challenges, such as guidance for healthcare professionals on treating people with dementia, but these need to be scaled up further and adapted for other settings. In conclusion, it is clear that a disability-inclusive COVID-19 response is needed, both in the UK and as the pandemic unfolds globally. This response will require inclusion of disability measures within data collection, consulting with disabled people, and tailoring responses to be appropriate for this group.