Family Presence in Long-Term Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Call to Action for Policy, Practice, and Research
Keywords:Long-term care, Pandemics, Caregivers, Policy, Public Health
Family presence in long-term care (LTC) homes is crucial for meeting the health, psychosocial, and practical needs of residents. Initially during the COVID-19 pandemic, visitation restrictions essentially locked-out families as public health orders prioritized prevention of harm from spread of infection. Although telephone and technology-assisted communication with families was encouraged, many residents were unable to participate. The outcry from families on the injustice of disruption of family units and emerging reports of harms arising from prolonged restrictions highlight the need for provincial and organizational policies to recognize the impact of resident and family separation on well-being. In this commentary we describe family caregiving, review the impact of visitation restrictions on residents, families, and LTC staff, and provide a resident- and family-oriented perspective on policy implications that challenge the outdated notion that extreme restrictions to family presence protect resident health.
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