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The Impact of Austerity Measures on People with Intellectual Disabilities in England

Forrester-Jones, Rachel, Beecham, Jennifer, Randall, Amy, Harrison, Rachel, Malli, Melina ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2744-4034, Sams, Lara and Murphy, Glynis (2021) The Impact of Austerity Measures on People with Intellectual Disabilities in England. Journal of Long Term Care. pp. 241-255.

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Abstract

Context: UK austerity measures following the 2008 financial crisis included budget reductions for health and social care. We aimed to investigate the extent to which austerity-measures had impacted the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in England, and whether their support costs were associated with their characteristics, needs and outcomes. Objectives: We report on what services people with intellectual disabilities were using, whether they had lost care, the costs of their support, and what impact any loss of benefits and services had on individuals’ lives. Methods: 150 participants with intellectual disabilities across England were interviewed about their services and their well-being. Service and individual support costs were calculated. Statistical and thematic analyses were employed. Results: The largest proportion (42%) of our sample had lost care. 14% had experienced changed care, and care had remained the same for 36%. Only 7% said their care had improved. No associations were found between costs and characteristics and needs except for whether the person had mild or severe intellectual disabilities. Those who had lost care engaged in fewer activities and had significantly lower self-esteem and quality-of-life scores compared with those who had not lost care. Loss of care impacted on individuals’ independence and future aspirations. Limitations: A comparative study of austerity impacts across the whole of England was not possible. Our costs data may be underestimated because full information on support from home, key, or support workers was unavailable. Implications: In attempting to mitigate against COVID-19 impacts on people with intellectual disabilities, policy-decisions will need to consider the backlog of a decade of cuts.

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