COVID-19 and Long-Term Care: the Essential Role of Family Caregivers

  • Whitney Hindmarch University of Calgary
  • Gwen McGhan University of Calgary
  • Kristin Flemons University of Calgary
  • Deirdre McCaughey University of Calgary
Keywords: COVID-19, family caregiver, long-term care, access, dementia

Abstract

Background

Those most at risk from severe COVID-19 infection are older adults; therefore, long-term care (LTC) facilities closed their doors to visitors and family caregivers (FCGs) during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most common chronic health condition among LTC residents is dementia, and persons living with dementia (PLWD) rely on FCGs to maintain their care provision. This study aims to evaluate the impact of visitor restrictions and resulting loss of FCGs providing in-person care to PLWD in LTC during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method

An online survey and follow-up focus groups were conducted June to September 2020 (n=70). Mixed quantitative (descrip­tive statistics) and qualitative (thematic analysis) methods were used to evaluate study data.

Results

FCGs were unable to provide in-person care and while al­ternative communication methods were offered, they were not always effective. FCGs experienced negative outcomes including social isolation (66%), strain (63%), and reduced quality of life (57%). PLWD showed an increase in responsive behaviours (51%) and dementia progression. Consequently, 85% of FCGs indicated they are willing to undergo specialized training to maintain access to their PLWD.

Conclusion

FCGs need continuous access to PLWD they care for in LTC.

Author Biographies

Whitney Hindmarch, University of Calgary

Faculty of Medicine

Gwen McGhan , University of Calgary

Faculty of Nursing

Kristin Flemons, University of Calgary

Faculty of Medicine

Deirdre McCaughey, University of Calgary

Faculty of Medicine

Published
2021-07-13
How to Cite
Hindmarch, W., McGhan , G., Flemons, K., & McCaughey, D. (2021). COVID-19 and Long-Term Care: the Essential Role of Family Caregivers. Canadian Geriatrics Journal, 24(3), 195-199. https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.24.508
Section
Original Research