The Experience of COVID-19 Visitor Restrictions among Families of People Living in Long-Term Residential Care Facilities during the First Wave of the Pandemic in Ireland

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 May 27;19(11):6559. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19116559.


Public health responses to COVID-19 in long-term residential care facilities (LTRCFs) have restricted family engagement with residents. These restrictions impact on quality of care and the psychosocial and emotional well-being of family caregivers. Following a national cross-sectional web-based survey, respondents were invited to provide personal reflections on visitor restrictions. This study aims to describe the consequences of these restrictions for individuals living in LTRCF and their families during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from open-ended questions contained within the survey were analyzed using Braun and Clarke's (2006) method of thematic analysis. Four themes were identified: 1. Altered Communication and Connection; 2. Emotional and Psychological Impact; 3. Protecting and Caring Role of Staff; 4. Family Role. Throughout the narrative accounts, it is evident that the visitor restrictions impacted on the emotional and mental well-being of families. Some respondents expressed frustration that they could not assist staff in essential care provision, reducing meaning and purpose in their own lives. COVID-19 LTRCF visitor restrictions made little distinction between those providing essential personal care and those who visit for social reasons. A partnership approach to care provision is important and should encompass strategies to maintain the psychosocial and emotional well-being of families and their relatives during times of self-isolating or restrictive measures.

Keywords: COVID-19; family caregivers; long-term residential care; nursing home; qualitative; thematic analysis.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Nursing Homes
  • Pandemics*

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.