What is the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on disabled people in Sheffield?

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Sheffield and Disability Sheffield collected insight on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on disabled people to make a submission to the Scrutiny Committee in March 2021.

The pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people’s wellbeing. Their mental health seems to have been impacted more so than their physical health. Disabled people disproportionately felt at high risk from Covid-19.

Disabled people have been disproportionately more likely to receive advice to shield, and to find information on shielding confusing.  This impacted on their ability to get food and prescriptions.

Some people with a Learning Disability found it hard to understand the lockdown rules or restrictions and did not fully understand the risks associated with catching coronavirus.

Disabled people found the rules about face mask exemptions confusing. People with visual impairments found it difficult to adhere to social distancing guidance. 

Disabled people disproportionately felt that the pandemic had prevented them from accessing health/social care services or other support. Whilst virtual meetings and appointments allowed more disabled people to take part, some people don’t have access to the right technology. GPs that shut their doors at the start of the pandemic were particularly difficult to access.

Health services didn’t always consider the need to provide alternative means of communicating changes to services for people with hearing or sight impairments.

Healthcare professionals wearing face coverings caused particular problems for people who needed to lip read.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, some disabled people got fewer hours of care than usual particularly on the social/community elements of their care.  Where people had a direct payment for their care, they were still charged the full amount rather than for the reduced package.

Disabled people were unable to access respite care during the pandemic and were not given alternative options for support.  This had a knock-on effect on carers.

Disabled people didn’t always know where to go to get accessible information about the Covid-19 vaccination.  They didn’t always get a invitation to be vaccinated in a way that met their needs.  The lack of choice of venues mean that people can’t choose the one that best meets their accessibility needs.

Changes to the physical environment to support social distancing had a negative impact on disabled people, including reduction of Blue Badge parking spaces.  Consultation periods were very short, making it difficult for disabled people to participate.

The report includes 14 recommendations aimed at addressing the issues raised.

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General details

Report title 
What is the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on disabled people in Sheffield?
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Sheffield
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 23 March, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 December, 2020
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Car parking access
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Food and nutrition
Health inequalities
Health protection
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Local Council
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
Disability Sheffield
Primary research method used 
Focus group
User stories
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Social care services 
Home care / domiciliary care
Nursing care home
Residential care home
Respite care
Community services 
Other services 
Patient transport
Non-emergency ambulance service

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Learning or understanding or concentrating
Mental health
Vision impairment
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not known
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.