Social networks beyond the household in which people live are important. The majority of people with profound or severe disability felt they could confide in someone living outside their household, although they were more likely to nominate a family member they could rely on (83%) than friends (73%), compared to people with no disability, of whom 90% had nominated an ex-household family member and 90% nominated friends they could confide in.
The percentage of people who can confide in a friend decreases with age, regardless of disability status. The rates for people with profound or severe disability and people with no disability diverge, however, at age 75 to 84. People who have no disability reported more friends to confide in and people with profound or severe disability markedly less. The rates are consistently lower for people with a disability, compared to people with no disability (see Graph 3).
In terms of disability groups, less than half (49%) of people with intellectually profound or severe disability reported having friends they could confide in, compared to 73% of people reporting with a physically severely or profoundly disability. People reporting an intellectual or psychological profound or severe disability were less likely to report having family members outside the household they could confide in (66% and 65% respectively), compared to those without disabilities (90%).
Of people with profound or severe disability, males were less likely to report having friends to confide in (67%) than females (77%). This pattern was repeated when people were asked if they had family members living outside the household they could confide in. Of people with profound or severe disabilities, 78% of males reported they had family members they could confide in, compared to 87% of females.
As can be seen in Graph 4, whether a person with a profound or severe disability has family they can confide in fluctuates through the life cycle, peaking in their old age.
When it comes to dealing with a crisis, most people with a profound or severe disability reported having someone to support them (over 90%) (see Graph 5). However, those with a profound or severe psychological disability reported a lower rate of 82%. This compares with 95% of people with no disability.
Whether people with disability have someone to support them in a time of crisis fluctuates throughout the life cycle, peaking in young adulthood and again in the period from 55-64 yrs. People with profound or severe disability are generally less likely to report having these forms of support throughout their life cycle, compared to people without disability, although they do approach the same rates at ages 25 to 34 years and 55 to 64 years (see Graph 5).