Delivering Psychological Services for People with Learning Disabilities during the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Experiences of Psychologists in the UK

Nicola Gregson, Cathy Randle-Phillips, Claire Delaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: People with learning disabilities (PWLD) have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with reports of significant impacts on psychological wellbeing. Services that support PWLD in the UK have had to make significant adaptations, however there is limited research into the perceptions and impact of these changes. This exploratory study aims to investigate the experiences of psychologists working in UK learning disability services throughout the pandemic, to explore service delivery, impact on the psychological wellbeing of PWLD, and the implications from this going forward. Methods: Twelve psychologists were interviewed, and thematic analysis was used to explore patterns and themes. Results: Three superordinate themes were identified. ‘Delivering Psychological Services’ contained five subordinate themes: ‘Context,’ ‘Accessibility and Acceptability,’ ‘Professional Identity,’ ‘Living the Pandemic’ and ‘Team Connection.’ ‘Wellbeing of PWLD’ contained three subordinate themes: ‘Same Storm Different Boat,’ ‘Continued Inequality’ and ‘Resilience and Re-Evaluation.’ ‘Learning and Future Practice’ contained three subordinate themes: ‘Inclusion,’ ‘Choice and Connection’ and ‘Workforce Wellbeing.’ Conclusion: Findings conclude that although a time of immense challenge and loss, the pandemic has triggered significant re-thinking and learning within services. With inequality still evident for PWLD, an emphasis on future services carefully considering potential disadvantage by over-digitization of services is key. There is hope that future psychological services can be offered with more choice and flexibility. Staff wellbeing, compassionate leadership and reestablishing team connections is essential in the new landscape of services. Recommendation, practical implications, and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-196
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Volume15
Issue number2
Early online date14 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Learning disability
  • psychological services
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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