'Safety First': Residents, Families, and Healthcare Staff Experiences of COVID-19 Restrictions at an Irish Residential Care Centre

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 27;19(21):14002. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192114002.


The COVID-19 pandemic and the need to stem the transmission and protect the most vulnerable in society led to infection control restrictions effectively locking down an entire country. These restrictions were also imposed on residential care settings for older people, initially in March 2020, and subsequently at varying times throughout the year that followed. Furthermore, the restrictions led to the suspension in all visiting to residents expect in exceptional circumstances and on compassionate grounds. The purpose of this research study was to develop an understanding of the experience of residents, their families, and carers in an Irish residential care setting during the COVID-19 lockdown. Data were collected in a residential care centre for older people in Ireland, using semi-structured interviews of residents, family members and staff. Interviews were conducted in person for residents and virtually for family members and staff. In total 29 people were interviewed. Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke's thematic data analysis approach. Four themes and three subthemes were developed from the data. The main themes were 'difficult but safe', 'communication', 'staff going above and beyond', 'what about the future?' Residents, families and staff of the residential care setting had to manage and cope with the challenges of the restrictions imposed during COVID-19 lockdown. This study highlighted the negative impacts of visiting restrictions on staff, residents and their family members during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Keywords: COVID-19; family; infection control; lockdown; resident; residential care; restrictions.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes
  • Pandemics / prevention & control

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.