Summary of report content
Healthwatch Richmond on Thames undertook an equalities review of their research and insight on the impact of Covid-19 for the Equalities and Human Rights Network. They looked at the experiences of 2,500 people.
They identified a number of key themes:
- Digital exclusion is not limited to having access to a device and the internet but also having the support and skills to do new tasks online. Those who couldn’t were reliant on community support but this wasn’t always available during the pandemic.
- Carers faced many challenges during the pandemic, including reduced respite care and face to face support, and getting priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine.
- People living alone had less support than before the pandemic, and exacerbated their feelings of isolation. For those in the LGBTQ+ community, the isolation from their community and friendship groups was particularly acutely felt because some people had experienced breakdown of family support.
- People who were shielding were particularly hesitant about reengaging with face to face activities including essential appointments.
- Overall young people were very resilient, but those still at school experienced an increase in school stressors. Younger people also experienced digital exclusion as they were likely to lack the privacy needed to access care online.
- Maternity care changed substantially during the pandemic. For pregnant people with English as a second language, not being able to be accompanied to appointments by their partners caused difficulty with communication and increased anxiety.
- LGBTQ+ people spoke about higher mental health needs during the pandemic and lower levels of support from their community. LGBTQ+ safe places closed during the pandemic reducing the opportunity to get support.
- People from minority ethnic communities felt there was a lack of multi-cultural awareness in the borough. Many people were unaware of the opportunities available to them across NHS, care and wider community support and therefore unable to take advantage of them.
There were 5 recommendations about digital services, better and more targeted information, the need for safe places, additional support for carers and increased mental health services.