The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on Chinese care homes in New Zealand

Presenter: Doris Zhang (The University of Auckland, New Zealand)

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

Abstract:

Background

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, the New Zealand government implemented nationwide lockdowns throughout 2020 and 2021. Consequently, strict visiting restrictions were enforced in care homes across the country. This placed an already vulnerable population at risk of functional and cognitive decline, as well as psychological difficulties. Despite a growing international body of literature evaluating the impact of COVID19 isolation on care facilities, there is a lack of evidence exploring experiences of minority groups. The Chinese community is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in New Zealand and face additional challenges, including language barriers, differing cultural beliefs and COVID19-related discrimination. 

Objectives

 To explore the experiences of Chinese care home residents in New Zealand during the COVID19 lockdowns.

Methods

We performed in-depth semi-structured interviews with predominantly Chinese individuals (n=18) across two Chinese-run care homes in Auckland. Participants included residents (n=6), family members (n=6) and facility staff (n=6). We conducted and transcribed interviews in either English or Mandarin Chinese. Transcripts were coded and thematically analysed to synthesise themes. 

Results

The preliminary analysis suggests a disproportionate impact on Chinese residents with dementia compared with cognitively intact peers, lockdown led to difficulties for families to fulfil the obligation of filial piety, and relationships between residents, family and staff were enhanced by the use of technology.

Discussion

The lockdown promoted a sense of unity in residential facilities in the study. The necessary and rapid adoption of technology during lockdown was beneficial and strengthened relationships between residents, family and staff.

Co-authors:

Doris Zhang1, Gary Cheung1, Sarah Cullum1, Lillian Ng1

1The University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Department of Psychological Medicine

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