The Loneliness of Learning Disabilities

A NEW survey from the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has revealed epidemic levels of loneliness among people with learning disabilities living in Scotland.

A whopping 80% of respondents identified themselves as feeling lonely sometimes or all of the time and those feelings of loneliness cut across all age groups, disabilities and locations.

Some 69% of people said they feel regularly lonely with a further 11% feeling lonely sometimes and many point to the evening as the time of the day when feelings of loneliness are at their worst.

The number of people with learning disabilities who experience isolation regularly was 40% with a further 16% saying they experience isolation sometimes. 44% said they do not have any experience of isolation.

A spokesperson for LDAS said: “We did have an expectation that the numbers of people with learning disabilities feeling lonely and isolated would perhaps be a little higher than any statistics we have so far seen for the wider community but this is higher than we ever thought.

“Previous research shows people with disabilities or mental health issues are already vulnerable to social isolation and the very nature of the disabilities that some people have can also be a factor in their ability to communicate, interact or get involved in activities without care support.

“Added to that are the issues around the cost of care, which is a major burden for many people. Rising care costs coupled with service cuts can only add to the loneliness many people with learning disabilities are feeling and the implications for their mental and physical health as a result are severe.

“This is an issue that has to be addressed if we want to have an inclusive society that values all of our citizens and is the Fairer Scotland the Scottish government says it wants to achieve.”

The survey report does suggest recommendations that have been suggested by respondents to address the problem including a major awareness raising campaign about learning disabilities, friendship training and greater access to support during times of transition in their lives.

The survey report comes ahead of the closing date of the Scottish Government’s own consultation on loneliness and isolation in Scotland entitled, A Connected Scotland: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger communities.

The survey is available in easy read format here   

The survey is available in easy read and full format here   

Check out the LDAS blog for more discussion on the survey here   

The Connected Scotland consultation ends 27 April and can be found here