Life after lockdown: loneliness, exclusion and the impact of hidden disability

Chloe Bradbury, Abbey Fletcher, Stephen Dunne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
Stroke survivors are a population at increased risk of experiencing loneliness, thus exploring the effect of lockdown measures on stroke survivors is of paramount importance. We explored the personal experiences of loneliness among stroke survivors during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons that can be learned from these experiences.

Methods
Seventeen stroke survivors from across the United Kingdom (10 females, 7 males; 45–83 years old; Mage = 63.47) participated in semi-structured interviews. Reflexive thematic analysis was employed in the interpretation of the data.

Results
Three overarching themes were constructed: (1) hidden struggles, isolated lives; (2) divergent experiences and adaptations; and (3) rebuilding after lockdown. These themes explore survivors’ experiences of loneliness generally after stroke and how this loneliness was assuaged with online video conferencing and other technological solutions. They also chronicle how these feelings changed during lockdown and survivors’ feelings regarding society returning to ‘normal’ and the associated apprehension and anxiety this brings.

Conclusions
We recommend a focus on improving understanding of the challenges faced after stroke to reduce stigma, increase empathy and promote inclusive attitudes within society, alongside better pandemic preparedness through engagement with hybrid support solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberIB23111
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Impairment
Volume25
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2024

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