Loneliness and Learning Disabilities

May 6, 2022 | Learning Disabilities, Loneliness, News |

Lonely man painting

53% of disabled people report feeling lonely, rising to 77% for young disabled people

Isolation and loneliness have been identified as particularly acute for people with learning disabilities. The causes of loneliness are also complex. There can be challenges to building social connections, from physical access to transport and buildings to their conditions. Stigma and poor public attitudes were also directly linked to feelings of isolation.

Loneliness noun;   

Loneliness is a subjective negative feeling associated with a perceived lack of a wider social network (social loneliness) or the absence of a specific desired companion (emotional loneliness). 

lonely adult worker

Social Loneliness: Loneliness is a subjective negative feeling associated with a perceived lack of a broader social network

Emotional Loneliness: Absence of a specific desired companion.

People describe thoughts and feelings of loneliness with words like:

Health at risk

People with learning disabilities die, on average, 15 to 20 years sooner than people in the general population and many of those deaths could be avoided through improved healthcare and preventative actions.

Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for morbidity and mortality with effects equivalent to:

Lack of exercise
High blood pressure

Social Exclusion

People with learning disabilities are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population and have fewer opportunities to take part in social and leisure activities.

Higher levels of loneliness and social isolation spiked by the restrictions during lockdowns.

People with learning disabilities have:

  • Limited opportunities for joining social groups.
  • Limited access to support staff in the evenings and at weekends discourages people with a learning disability from socialising outside the home.
  • Lower levels of employment and social connection.
  • A lack of support available to help people with a learning disability to develop their social skills and self-confidence.
  • Carers, family members or the general public can devalue the friendships of people with learning disabilities.
  • Low levels of awareness and understanding from public members who may not encourage or involve people with a learning disability.

Meet the digital companion, GenieConnect®

Combating loneliness since 2018

GenieConnect® enables the delivery of more flexible and better-quality care to combat loneliness and isolation, enabling independent living and reducing demand on our health and social care providers.

Two adults baking with Genie

Enabling Connected Communities

We now live in a digital first world where many daily tasks are done using technology, such as online shopping, banking, and social media. However, people with learning disabilities often struggle to access and use digital tools.

This is where we come in.

GenieConnect® assists those at greatest risk of loneliness with remote care services using a digital companion robot. It supports social interactions with virtual video calling via the companion application and connects to family members, carers, healthcare services and other Genie users.

It is nice to feel like I can see and talk to my mum, we tried video chatting on WhatsApp, but it kept cutting out. The best time we have spoken is on Genie.

Adam. Genie User


Genie User

Three people with learning disabilities Kehelland Trust with robotics

Our learners can struggle with a sense of isolation when at home. When attending Kehelland, it’s easy for them to form friendships and valuable social bonds, but this can fall apart at home due to Cornwall’s relative rurality. Transport links in Cornwall are poor, and if the learner doesn’t have any other means of transport, it’s easy to become distanced. This has become more pronounced lately due to the ongoing pandemic, which has disproportionately affected individuals with special educational needs.

Dan Quick

Senior Tutor, Kehelland Trust

CEO of Service Robotics Ltd

“Finding proven methods of delivering some care remotely is game-changing for the care industry. By doing this we are reaching more adults with a new service model, allowing companionship and meaningful care while some tasks are automated”

GenieConnect® offers ways to improve communication and independence for people with learning disabilities in an increasingly digital world. For some users, this might be helping them get ready for the day, using reminders to take medication or to hydrate, cook independently and offer discrete methods to ask for help and support without fear of discrimination or feeling inadequate.

Get insights to how assistive technology is paving the way for improved independence and companionship for people with learning disabilities

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Why it matters now?

GenieConnect® is a solution whose time has come, in a rapidly growing Technology Enabled Care market, with commercial traction proving the value of our business.

UK digital healthcare market valued at an estimated £2.9bn.