Family visits to care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic: a summary of ongoing UK research, March 2021

Presenter: Alex Hall

Abstract for the International workshop on COVID-19 and Long-Term Care systems: What have we learnt and what policies do we need to strengthen LTC systems?, 6 and 7th December 2021

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Alex Hall: LTC-COVID Workshop 6 – 7 December 2021


During the pandemic, visits to care homes from family members have been strictly curtailed to prevent COVID-19 transmission. However, visiting has health and wellbeing benefits for residents and visitors. A key issue is to balance the risks of COVID-19 transmission against the benefits of visiting. In December 2020, the NIHR Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit was approached by the Department of Health & Social Care, Public Health England and the Sage Social Care Working Group to carry out a scope of current, ongoing UK research exploring experiences and preferences of care home staff, families and relatives on visiting in the time of the pandemic. In February 2021, we searched key databases and websites for studies with a start date of March 2020 or later that were using review, qualitative and/or survey methodology and that had not yet published peer-reviewed findings. We contacted lead investigators with requests for further information. We identified 17 UK-based studies that were in progress or about to start. Emerging findings highlighted that differential impacts of blanket visiting policies are perceived to be particularly unsuitable for the high proportion of residents with cognitive impairment. Issues likely to be addressed in ongoing studies include finance and resource implications for care homes implementing visiting policies, roles of other stakeholders in the health and social care system, and perspectives on vaccination. 


Dr Alex Hall and Professor Chris Todd

University of Manchester / NIHR Older People & Frailty Policy Research Unit

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