Social Inclusion Project

Recent research has found that family (e.g., informal, unpaid) caregivers to those in long-term care can experience significant risk of social isolation, a harmful social outcome linked to poor health and wellbeing. For many, the COVID-19 global pandemic has been a time marked by challenges that have exacerbated existing risk of social isolation and has likely impacted mental health and wellbeing among caregivers. This study investigates the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the psychological health and well-being of family caregivers of people living in residential long-term care.

Related Publications

Boamah, S.A., Dal Bello-Haas, V., Weldrick, R., Durepos, P., & Kaasalainen, S. (2021). The cost of isolation: A protocol for exploring the experiences of family caregivers. Social Science Protocol4, 1–9. https://dx.doi.org/10.7565/ssp.2021.v4.6190

ABSTRACT

Background: Recent research has found that family (e.g., informal, unpaid) caregivers to those in long-term care can experience significant risk of social isolation, a harmful social outcome linked to poor health and wellbeing. For many, the COVID-19 global pandemic has been a time marked by challenges that have exacerbated existing risk of social isolation and has likely impacted mental health and wellbeing among caregivers. As such, this paper outlines a protocol to investigate the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the psychological health and well-being of family caregivers of people living in residential long-term care.

Methods/Design: A descriptive phenomenological design and photovoice methodology will be used alongside focus groups to capture the perspectives and voices of 15-20 family caregivers. Data will be analyzed thematically, and themes will be developed collaboratively alongside participants. A secondary analysis will be guided by a cumulative inequality lens to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has differentially affected caregivers.

Discussion: The results will fill a significant gap in the existing literature on caregiver isolation during this pandemic and inform the development and/or refinement of caregiver supports.

Boamah, S.A., Weldrick, R., Lee, T.J., & Taylor, N. (2021). Social isolation among older adults in long-term care: A scoping review. Journal of Aging & Health, 33(7–8). https://doi.org/10.1177/08982643211004174

ABSTRACT

Objectives: A wealth of literature has established risk factors for social isolation among older people; however, much of this
research has focused on community-dwelling populations. Relatively little is known about how risk of social isolation is
experienced among those living in long-term care (LTC) homes. We conducted a scoping review to identify possible risk factors for social isolation among older adults living in LTC homes.

Methods: A systematic search of five online databases retrieved 1535 unique articles. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria.

Results: Thematic analyses revealed that possible risk factors exist at three levels: individual (e.g., communication barriers), systems (e.g., location of LTC facility), and structural factors (e.g., discrimination).

Discussion: Our review identified several risk factors for social isolation that have been previously documented in literature, in addition to several risks that may be unique to those living in LTC homes. Results highlight several scholarly and practical implications.