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Social contact and participation in community

Contact with family and friends

Regardless of disability status, most adults said that in the past four weeks they had contact with family and friends they don’t live with.
For disabled adults:

  • 83 percent had face-to-face contact with family
  • 92 percent had non-face-to-face contact with family
  • 90 percent had face-to-face contact with friends
  • 87 percent had non-face-to-face contact with friends.

Satisfaction with the amount of contact they had was similar for disabled and non-disabled adults:

  • 72 percent of disabled adults and 74 percent of non-disabled said they had ‘about the right’ amount of contact with family
  • 75 percent of both disabled adults and non-disabled said they had ‘about the right’ amount of contact with friends.

Disabled women were less likely to have ‘about the right’ amount of contact with family compared with non-disabled women (72 percent and 76 percent, respectively).

The proportion of disabled adults for whom contact with family was ‘about right’ increased with age (63 percent for 15–44 age group, 69 percent for 45–64, and 82 percent for 65+). These age differences are similar to those found for contact with friends.

Participation in leisure activities

Leisure activities for children

The most common leisure activities for disabled children were:

  • going out with family or friends in the last four weeks (93 percent)
  • visiting friends in the last four weeks (78 percent)
  • going away on holiday in the last 12 months (76 percent).

Non-disabled children were more likely to participate in leisure activities than disabled children. The exception was for belonging to a club, such as Girl Guides or Scouts, where there was no evidence of difference between disabled and non-disabled children.

The biggest differences between disabled and non-disabled children were for:

  • participating in a team sport (47 percent compared with 63 percent for non-disabled)
  • doing other physical activity such as swimming or gymnastics (53 percent compared with 65 percent for non-disabled)
  • visiting friends (78 percent compared with 92 percent for non-disabled).

Leisure activities for adults

The most common leisure activities for disabled adults were:

  • going to a café, restaurant, or pub in the last four weeks (71 percent)
  • going away on holiday in last 12 months (53 percent)
  • doing voluntary work in the last four weeks (34 percent).

Disabled adults were less likely to participate in most leisure activities than non-disabled adults. The exception was voluntary work where there was no evidence of difference between the participation rates for disabled and non-disabled adults.

The biggest differences between disabled and non-disabled adults were for:

  • going away on holiday in the last 12 months (53 percent compared with 72 percent for non-disabled)
  • playing sport (20 percent compared with 38 percent for non-disabled).

Feelings of loneliness

Disabled adults were more likely than non-disabled adults to say they had felt lonely, at least occasionally, in the past four weeks (38 percent compared with 29 percent of non-disabled).

Regardless of disability status, women were more likely to feel lonely at least occasionally than men:

  • 43 percent of disabled women felt lonely compared with 34 percent of disabled men
  • 32 percent of non-disabled women felt lonely compared with 26 percent of non-disabled men.

Younger adults were more likely than older adults to report feeling lonely in the past four weeks, and this was particularly so for disabled adults. Of disabled adults, 53 percent of those aged 15–44 said they had felt lonely, compared with 35 percent of those aged 45–64 and 29 percent of those aged 65+.

Bar graph showing the percentage of disabled and non-disabled adults who felt lonely in the last four weeks by age groups 15-44years, 45-64 years and 65 plus in 2013. Age is on the x axis and percent on the y axis. Disabled adults were more likely than non-disabled adults to say they had felt lonely, at least occasionally, in the past four weeks.  Younger adults were more likely than older adults to report feeling lonely in the past four weeks, and this was particularly so for disabled adults.

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