Disabled children still face social isolation

By Chris Hill · May 14, 2021

3 in 4 disabled children socially isolated

A high proportion of disabled children and their families are still experiencing severe levels of social isolation, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, a new report reveals. 

New research has been released by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), a coalition of 80 disability charities, including WellChild, which has published the findings of the third survey of its Parent Panel on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their families.   

 The survey shows that, although there has been some improvement for families in terms of accessing support via school or the health service, the difference between current and pre-pandemic levels of support is vast.   

More than half of families are unable to access therapies vital for their disability. Sixty percent are experiencing delays and challenges with accessing the health service appointments they need.  These figures in isolation are concerning, but to an even greater extent alarming when considered in context. A large proportion of families with disabled children have multiple diagnosis culminating in multiple appointments with a variety of services. 

Lack of support and its impact on parents’ mental wellbeing has been well documented in the two previous DCP survey reports.  This survey confirms that anxiety, stress and mental wellbeing levels experienced by the parent panel are significantly worse than the general population.  Consecutive surveys demonstrate that this is an ongoing problem for families rather than a short-term response to the events of the pandemic.   

The lack of access to multiple services across education and health has been detrimental to the mental health of parents as carers, with their disabled children and wider family persistently isolated.  Disabled children and their families are at risk of developing additional long-term health problems, ultimately culminating in adverse outcomes for their future goals and aspirations. 

WellChild is a leading member of The DCP, a growing coalition of charities who have joined forces, working closely in partnership with parents, to campaign for improved health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families. 

You can read the full report here. 

“It is unacceptable that so many families are unable to access vital therapies and face delays getting important health appointments. It is vital that children and young people with complex heath needs receive the support and care they need at this difficult time, not only to safeguard the physical health of these vulnerable young people but also their mental health and that of their parents and carers.”

WellChild Chief Executive Colin Dyer