Bethell J, Aelick K, Babineau J, Bretzlaff M, Edwards C, Gibson J-L, Colborne DH, Iaboni A, Lender D, Schon D, McGilton K (@EncoaRteam)
Infection control measures put in place to protect long-term care (LTC) home residents from COVID-19 – such as prohibiting visitors and limiting contact with others in the home – have also negatively impacted their health through the effect on social connection. While there is limited research evidence on effective interventions to build and maintain social connection for LTC residents, and the applicability in the context of disease outbreaks is unclear, strategies are needed to address social connection in LTC both during and beyond COVID-19.
Our team of researchers and knowledge users (including Behavioural Supports Ontario, Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils and Family Councils Ontario) conducted a scoping review to summarize published research on:
(1) the mental health outcomes associated with social connection for LTC home residents, and,
(2) highlight potential strategies that might be used and adapted by LTC residents, families and staff to build and maintain social connection in LTC residents during COVID-19.
We have summarized 61 research articles testing the association between social connection and mental health outcomes in LTC residents; the results underscore important links between social connection and mental health in this population. We summarized 72 observational and intervention studies to highlight 12 potential strategies that LTC residents, families and staff might use to help build and maintain social connection in LTC residents, including during COVID-19; some represent fundamental aspects of resident care whereas others will not be relevant to every residents’ needs, values, family situation and circumstances – or applicable and feasible within the design, culture and context of every LTC home. However, all strategies rely on a healthy, sustained LTC workforce.
Although further research is needed, there is an immediate need to act given the sudden and severe impact of COVID-19 on social connection in LTC residents.
Scoping Review: Bethell J, Aelick K, Babineau J, et al. Social connection in long-term care homes: A scoping review of published research on the mental health impacts and potential strategies during COVID-19. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2020; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2020.11.025
- Infographic (English/ Français)
- Full Report (English/ Français)
- Webinar (English) (Recording / Slide Deck)
This work was funded by a “Knowledge Synthesis: COVID-19 in Mental Health & Substance Use” operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).