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Family Involvement and Unpaid Caregiving in Long-Term Care Homes

Project status
Amy Hsu
Host institution
Bruyère Research Institute
Team members
Amy T. Hsu (PI), Alixe Ménard (co-lead), Shereen Hussain, Annie Sun and Anna Cooper-Reed
Project Summary

The Family Involvement and Unpaid Caregiving in Long-Term Care (LTC) project provides insight pertaining to the various personal care tasks performed by caregivers during their visits to residents in LTC homes and how much time it typically takes unpaid caregivers to perform these tasks. The aim of this study is to develop a better understanding on family members’ involvement in direct care in order to inform and facilitate a strong working relationship between care providers and family members who wish to be involved in the care of their loved one.

Why is this work important?

One of the first challenges identified during the COVID-19 pandemic is the lack of a proper definition for what constitutes an essential visitor in LTC homes. This challenge has led to the realization that unpaid caregivers, their care contributions as well as the time they dedicate to the care of their loved one in a LTC home is not well understood.

An appreciation for the true extent and nature of the family’s involvement within LTC could promote efforts on the part of LTC homes to ensure families feel supported and not overwhelmed by their care contributions. Results from this study can aid the design of programs of support for caregivers in LTC while simultaneously forging better relationships between LTC staff and these care providers.

Research questions

Our primary research questions are:

  • Who provides unpaid personal care to residents in LTC?
  • How often do these individuals provide unpaid personal care to residents in LTC?
  • What are the tasks that these individuals perform in providing unpaid care to residents in LTC?
  • How much time do these individuals spend on these tasks?

Our approach

 We developed a cross-sectional survey that was administered to 224 unpaid caregivers of residents in Ontario’s LTC homes to capture the characteristics of unpaid caregivers and the care task(s) these caregivers were involved in prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outputs / Expected Outputs

The study started in April 2021 and aims to be completed by September 2021.

Given the importance of unpaid caregivers in LTC and their contributions to the wellbeing of residents, we will seek to ensure relevant emerging findings are available to the public, to LTC staff and to provincial decision-makers in a timely manner. We will seek to publish a range of outputs such as:

  • Journal articles;
  • Research evidences summaries/blogs.

We aim to publish the first analytical report in the fall of 2021. The report will focus on the frequency of visits as well as the range of personal care tasks that unpaid caregivers might perform in their visits to residents and the time it usually takes to perform these tasks.


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Family Involvement and Unpaid Caregiving in Long-Term Care Homes