B.C. Special Olympics athlete, Jake Hooper, and his sister Caitlin are concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on people with intellectual disabilities. (Courtesy of Caitlin Hooper)

B.C. Special Olympics athlete, Jake Hooper, and his sister Caitlin are concerned about the impact COVID-19 is having on people with intellectual disabilities. (Courtesy of Caitlin Hooper)

Pandemic raises stakes for B.C. residents with intellectual disabilities

Untrained health care workers can jeopardize lives of people with ID

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) already face challenges in accessing adequate health care, and those in the field say with an ongoing global pandemic, the stakes are far higher.

The primary issue is communication, according to a Special Olympics BC program manager. “It’s often difficult for these individuals to describe what their pain is or what’s bothering them,” Michelle Cruickshank said. “For medical professionals, who don’t know them personally or don’t have a good idea of how to coax that information from them, to be able to properly care and diagnose is very difficult.”

Over 80 per cent of health care professionals haven’t received training on how to treat people with ID, according to Special Olympics International.

READ ALSO: B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

Now that in-person appointments are a rare occurrence, communication is even more strained. Megan Pollock, Special Olympics BC communications manager, said they are fearful that people with ID aren’t receiving critical information around the prevention and symptoms of COVID-19.

Another fear is mental health.

B.C. Special Olympics athlete, Jake Hooper, and his sister Caitlin Hooper. (Courtesy of Caitlin Hooper)

“People with intellectual disabilities often have quite a few anxieties and we have found that mental health has been slacking,” said Caitlin Hooper whose brother, Jake Hooper, competes in the Special Olympics.

“It can be a little troubling at times,” Jake said. “I’m used to having those connections and due to all this COVID stuff it’s been kind of weary.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

Regardless of COVID-19, Cruickshank said it is often hard to motivate a person with ID to engage in many of the things that are beneficial to mental health, such as healthy eating and physical activity. Now, there’s the added barrier of not being able to motivate them in person.

“Now we can’t go and get someone for a walk or make a healthy meal together,” Cruickshank said.

As with many things, COVID-19 has highlighted what were already long-neglected issues, they said. Now, with the lives of people with ID at greater risk, Pollock said B.C.’s elected officials need “to step forward and create essential and lasting change.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CoronavirusdisabilitiesHealthcareSpecial Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trinity Kettyls and Mackenzie Rigg start their 5.4km loop in Gordon Head on Sunday cheered on by members of the Vikes soccer team. Theirs was the last lap of the 270km relay that raised over $67,000 towards the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. (Armando Tura Photo)
Vikes Kick Cancer fundraiser in Saanich surpasses $67,000

Around the world, athletes virtually join Gordon Head relay

Island Health reported an exposure of COVID-19 at Sir James Douglas Elementary on Nov. 23. Those with high-risk exposures have been contacted directly, the health authority says. (Google maps)
Victoria elementary school added to list of COVID-19 exposures

Fairfield school is region’s third school listed with an exposure this month

A spokesperson for the Peninsula Country Market is upset that their third and final Winter Market won’t happen this Saturday in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park following moves by the municipality. (Facebook/Peninsula Country Market)
Central Saanich postpones weekend Winter Market, organizers upset

Lorea Tomsin said municipality’s move runs counter to provincial direction

Some older Canadian currency will have its legal status removed at the start of the new year(. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com)
Bank of Canada puts the boots to old bills

$1 and $2, $25 to $500 and $1,000 lose cash value Jan. 1, 2021

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

Most Read