How do people overcome loneliness and build resilience during COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected residents, family members and staff in Long-Term Care (LTC) homes. This research investigated the state of loneliness of residents and the staff living and working in LTC homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aimed to identify non-pharmacological ways to decrease loneliness and to work with stakeholders to co-develop policies. This research will be useful in improving the quality of life for residents in LTC homes. It generated relevant and new knowledge directly from staff, residents, and family members and will help reinforce the strengths of our healthcare model.
We interviewed 15 residents and 16 staff members to identify common themes related to loneliness experienced by residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, there was increased loneliness among residents due to the social isolation and grief experienced, which in part was due to the COVID-19 spread, safety protocols, visitation limitations and understaffing situation. Initiatives to increase social connection and create a lively atmosphere helped decrease this loneliness felt. On the other hand, a common theme among staff was the staff shortages, and burnout experienced that caused this increased loneliness. Throughout the pandemic, appropriate support among staff members and relationships built helped ease this loneliness.
From here on, we intend to work with LTC stakeholders to implement recommendations to reduce loneliness for both staff and residents (e.g. music headphone project).
Our research was guided by Patient Oriented Research and used a loneliness scale, interviews and focus groups. We explored how to improve the quality of care to mitigate loneliness by identifying any lessons learned together.
Our Overcoming Loneliness team works with patient partners as co-researchers, gaining their valuable input throughout the whole study.
Team members: Lillian Hung, Gloria Loi, Mario Gregorio, Sheila Dunn, Karen Wong, Chealsea Smith and Polly Huynh. See our ‘About Us’ page to learn more about our lab members.