News story | Date: 24/06/2021 | Ministry of Health and Care Services
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on people with disabilities. A working group appointed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services has proposed measures in the field of health and care services to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic for people with disabilities and their families or caregivers.
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The working group has now submitted its report.
‘I am glad that the report contains concrete measures to reduce the consequences of the pandemic for people with disabilities and their families or caregivers.
In order to improve services in the short term, I have asked the Norwegian Directorate of Health to update its advice, write to the municipalities and county governors throughout the country, and organise a webinar on infection control and rights for people with disabilities’, says Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
The working group has consisted of representatives of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Directorate of Children, Youth and Family Affairs, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, the Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People, the Norwegian Forum of Disabled Peoples’ Organizations SAFO, the Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities, Mental Health Norway, the Norwegian Alliance for Informal Carers, and the National Association for Public Health.
A sense of isolation
Many people with disabilities have experienced social isolation, loneliness, and reduced access to municipal health and care services, specialist health services, school and education, leisure activities, and work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report from the Directorate of Children, Youth and Family Affairs (2020) on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equality for people with disabilities presents different short and long-term effects associated with longstanding isolation and lack of contact with other people, as well as an increased care burden on families and caregivers.
Even as society has been gradually reopened, the Directorate has reported that progress has been generally slow and, in some cases, it has been even slower for people with disabilities.
Deterioration in health
The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision has stated that service users who require complex services generally report that they have received fewer services during the pandemic, and that their state of health has deteriorated. It has also stated that this group has the largest proportion of families and caregivers who have had to increase their efforts during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health and Care Services has accordingly asked the Norwegian Directorate of Health to take the following steps:
- consider reframing general measures so that they are better directed at vulnerable groups, and possibly consider new measures for people with disabilities;
- review the recommendations that fall under the purview of the Ministry of Health and Care Services in the report from the Directorate of Children, Youth and Family Affairs, and the conditions under which these may be implemented, and the financial and administrative consequences.