Families caring for disabled adults ‘forgotten’ and ‘fobbed off’ during pandemic, survey finds

Families caring for disabled adults feel “forgotten” and “fobbed off” during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has indicated.

Three-quarters of families caring for a loved one at home had no prior warning about support services being reduced during lockdown, and more than half (52%) of families say the extra responsibilities have affected their mental health, a study by the disability charity Sense found.

More than a third (34%) were still waiting for vital support services to be reinstated in July, with family members left to carry out tasks like lifting, feeding and physiotherapy alone, the charity said.

Half of all families surveyed believe the Government has failed to provide enough guidance and support, and one in two say they fear being unable to cope if there is a second lockdown.

Jane Tasker, 60, from Liverpool, said when lockdown began in March, she was left to care alone for her 20-year-old daughter Faith, who is autistic, blind and hearing-impaired.

She said: “The hardest thing is the lack of information about when the support will be reinstated, or even what the plan is.

“You feel like you’re chasing people for updates, and then getting fobbed off.”

Lynne Earth, 53, from Peterborough, said she has to provide round-the-clock care for her son George, 24, who has complex and high-support needs, but will now have her support reinstated.

She said: “Families like ours, those caring for disabled adults, have been largely forgotten during the pandemic. We’re going through this incredibly difficult time, and you just hear nothing.

“We don’t even seem to be recognised by the Government.”

More than 1.7 million disabled adults are cared for by family in England and Wales, said Sense, and nearly four in 10 (38%) have seen services cut during the public health crisis.

Chief executive Richard Kramer (pictured) said: “Everyone has had their life affected by this pandemic, but few have had a harder time than the families looking after disabled adults over the last five months.

“Many haven’t had a break from caring and feel isolated and forgotten.

“Government must take action to reinstate the care and support that families need such as short breaks.

“We need to see clear and increased communication with disabled people and their families, and sufficient funding, support and resources to local authorities to flexibly deliver care and support.”

Some 1,000 respondents caring for disabled adult family members in their household were surveyed by Censuswide between July 21 and 28, said the charity.

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