Man wearing a facemask

People with learning disabilities left behind in wake of pandemic

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The UKRI ‘Coronavirus and people with learning disabilities’ study was a year long project involving researchers and organisations across the UK to find out and report on how coronavirus affected, and is still affecting the lives of people with a learning disability, as well as their parents and carers.

This study was necessary because no other data collections across the UK were capturing the impact of the pandemic on people with learning disabilities.

SCLD was pleased to be a partner organisation in Scotland along with PAMIS and the University of Glasgow. SCLD helped to recruit participants for the study and convened an advisory group of people with learning disabilities, who helped to shape the questions. This group named themselves, the ‘COV Explorers’.

In September 2021, the findings from the last wave of the study were published.

The findings show that people with learning disabilities have done their bit through the pandemic to keep themselves and others safe: over 90% are double vaccinated; most are still wearing masks in public and getting regular COVID tests.

But they are paying a price. More than half are worried about leaving the house, more than 1 in 5 are often or always anxious, or have had a new or worsening health problem.

Yet support for people and families, has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. For many easing restrictions for others has left them living more restricted lives with no obvious end in sight.

You can read through all the findings by visiting the ‘Coronavirus and people with learning disabilities’ study’s website.

The research team have produced a policy brief for the study, that includes a set of recommendations for moving forward:

In October, SCLD, University of Glasgow, PAMIS and the COV Explorers put together videos where they talked about their experiences of the pandemic, how they felt about being part of the study, and what difference they hope the findings will make going forward.

Together, they will work with the Scottish Government to make sure that lessons are learned, and these findings are fed into the Public Inquiry into the handling of COVID-19.


A series of videos were produced to explain more about the study. You can watch the videos below: