Effects of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities and their Unpaid Caregivers


Tilak Dutta

Yashoda Sharma


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all segments of society; however, individuals with disabilities experience the greatest effects [1]. In Canada, one in five (22%) persons aged 15 and older have a disability, and this population is expected to grow as our population ages [2]. COVID-19 brings unprecedented times, with restrictions being placed on how we interact with each other, negatively affecting the availability of services that people with disabilities and their unpaid caregivers rely on. Past research focuses primarily on the effects of emergencies/disasters that are very different from the challenges associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic, with little to no work being conducted on the effects of pandemics for people with disabilities and their unpaid caregivers. Therefore, the objective of our study is to identify the challenges that people with disabilities and their unpaid caregivers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.


We are proposing a cross-sectional survey for 1000 people with disabilities and their unpaid caregivers across Canada to gain their perspectives on the challenges they are experiencing during COVID-19. Open ended survey responses will be analyzed with the NVivo software by two members of the research team to ensure coding reliability. An inductive content analysis method will be used to discover common themes and participant experiences.

Our goal is to have the survey available to the public by the end of August 2020. Results will help to inform the development of solutions to the challenges identified which we will then rank in order of importance and ability for a given solution to be implemented quickly by our organizations that provide care (care provider agencies, long term care centers, hospitals) and/or governments at the municipal, provincial and/or federal levels.


This research is currently ongoing and results are not yet available.