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Psychologists offer guidance to support shielding adults with additional needs as guidelines continue to change

16 October 2020

The British Psychological Society has released new guidance to support those working with vulnerable adults with additional needs as they move out of shielding.

For people with complex needs such as learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions or those living with dementia, lockdown has led to a range of challenges and difficulties including increased anxiety, social isolation and changes to their care.

But, as restrictions lift and guidelines continue to change, people with additional communication needs might struggle to understand the new rules.

People with intellectual disabilities, autism or dementia, may feel unclear about the expectations around how they, and others, need to behave to ensure they remain safe.

Some of their regular activities and support networks may still not be available, or they may not have access to online versions. Some may also struggle to follow safety precautions outside of lockdown, such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Roman Raczka, chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology in England, said:

“The nature of hidden disabilities may mean that individuals’ support needs are not always recognised, which can lead to inappropriate, unhelpful or distressing responses from others in the community.

Many of the people who are coming out of shielding may face a new range of challenges.

Support needs to be considered from an individual, service and community level to ensure a smooth transition which works for everyone.”

The advice to professionals includes:

  • Deliver advice which is tailored to the individual, and presented in ways that are accessible to them e.g. videos, easy read, social stories
  • Support people to come out of shielding at a pace that feels right for them and for those who support them
  • Consider other ways of delivering support and care where there may be a lack of access to technology
  • Understand the potential impact of changes to previously familiar environments, activities and support and prepare people for these changes
  • Work closely with carers and others supporting those coming out of shielding
  • Raise awareness about hidden disabilities and ways of supporting people living with these conditions during the current situation. For example, promoting the use of Sunflower Lanyard Scheme.


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