Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown on a Long-Term Care Facility: The Role of Social Contact

Brain Sci. 2021 Jul 26;11(8):986. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11080986.


(1) Background: Long-term care facilities (LTCFs) have been harmed by the coronavirus, and older adults have remained isolated for a long time with many restrictions. The aim of this study was to measure the decline in cognitive, functional, and affective status in a care facility after the lockdown in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and to compare it with previous measures in order to determine if this decline was accelerated. (2) Methods: Ninety-eight participants were recruited. Data from three retrospective pre-lockdown assessments and an additional post-lockdown assessment were analyzed. Mixed ANOVA analyses were performed according to the Clinical Dementia Rating levels, considering social-contact frequency during the lockdown as a covariate. (3) Results: The cognitive and functional scores were lower and depression scores were higher after the strict lockdown, accelerating a general pattern of decline that was already present in LTCF residents. The frequency of social contact eliminated the measurement differences in the cognitive and functional scores and the group differences in depression scores. (4) Conclusions: The effects of the SARS-CoV-2 lockdown in an LTCF were mediated by the frequency of contact. Clinical implications: Preventive measures must be taken to ensure social contact with relatives and friends and reduce the negative consequences of social isolation in LTCFs.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; crisis; nursing homes; older adults; social isolation.