The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launches its first snapshot report on the impact of COVID-19 on social services for persons with disabilities across Europe. The report identifies the main challenges experienced by such service providers, as well as a general overview of the availability of support services in April 2020. EASPD urges public authorities at all levels to ensure that social services -and the service users & care-givers who benefit from them- are shielded from the impact of COVID-19.
EASPD’s first snapshot report provides a first general assessment of the situation of Disability Services across Europe during April 2020, at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report provides policy makers and other stakeholders with a very first analysis of the situation on the basis of evidence gathered from 47 member organisations and partners active in 23 European countries.
The report identifies the lack of access to protective equipment and testing; decreasing or unstable income streams and significant staffing issues, as the most pressing challenges that support services across Europe are facing right now.
The evidence gathered paints a complex picture across Europe; yet also highlights some common themes; such as the fact that residential care services and services for persons with very high support needs have remained open, whilst other face-to-face services– such as daycare and education- have been closed and are now primarily done through online instruments. This is having a major impact over the care and support needs of millions of persons with disabilities and their families and/or care-givers, generally women. Work, Training and Employment services have likewise generally been closed which is affecting very significantly the current (and possibly future) employment rates of persons with disabilities in Europe.
At the launch of this report, Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of EASPD, states that “COVID-19 has affected the lives of many persons with disabilities and their families, more than most, as highlighted by the European Disability Forum. This snapshot report confirms these warnings. Urgent attention is now needed to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the support services they need, in healthy and safe conditions, in line with the EU’s and Member States’ human rights obligations.”
The Author of the report, Mr Thomas Bignal, Policy Advisor EASPD, stated that “disability services need shielding from the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial poor response by Public Authorities – at national and EU level- has damaged the continuity of care and support, but also put at risk the health and well-being of millions of persons with disabilities, care-givers and social services professionals. The social services angle must be at the very heart of Europe’s next steps if the political response is to be fair and socially just”.
To shield disability services from the COVID-19 crisis, EASPD has 5 clear recommendations for policy-makers :
- Have Greater Political Urgency for Disability Services
- Prioritise access to PPE & Testing for Disability Services
- Guarantee Sufficient Staffing in Disability Services
- Ensure No Fall in Income for Disability Services
- Increase Scenario Planning with Disability Services
In the months to come, EASPD will continue to gather data and work with researchers to help public authorities and services for persons with disabilities to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the provision of quality community-based services, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- EASPD Snapshot Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Services in Europe
- EASPD and EAN open letter on Ensuring EU Response to COVID-19 tackles threat of social care emergency
- EASPD Priorities for EU Response to COVID-19 regarding threat to Social Service Provision
- Joining Forces! EASPD COVID-19 Support Space
Note to editors
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 17,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.