Woman and man giving heart sign through windowThe COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on long-term care communities. In an attempt to control the spread of infection, policies restricting the presence of families and friends were implemented. In addition, most residents were restricted to their rooms and social activities were extremely limited. These changes led to profound social isolation and loneliness among residents and resulted in an adverse impact on resident and family mental health and well-being. Typically, these policy changes were made without the input of residents and families. Additionally, they occurred despite what we learned from the SARS pandemic—primarily the serious harm that was caused by family presence restrictions.

In October 2021, IPFCC received an 18-month Eugene Washington Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Building Capacity for Long-Term Care Stakeholders in COVID-Related Patient-Centered Outcomes Research/Comparative Research (PCOR/CER). We partnered with residents and families in all aspects of the project. Our Project Team worked closely with a National Advisory Committee and four long-term care communities that served diverse populations across different geographic regions. A staff support person at each of the long-term care communities served as the primary point of contact and recruited and supported the residents and families participating in the project.

Man in wheelchair in front of windowA summary of resident and family perceptions and experience during the COVID-19 pandemic was developed following several virtual, structured small group conversations. Virtual stakeholder meetings, involving residents, families, long-term care staff, and leaders, were then convened to develop and prioritize research topics and themes evolving from the root causes of social isolation and loneliness.

Three key resources were developed from this collaborative work:

View the recording of the webinar, Family Presence in Hospitals and Long-Term Care: Learning from COVID-19 Experiences.