LTCcovid Country Profiles

Responses to 2.00. Overview impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people who use and provide Long-Term Care

The LTCcovid International Living report is a “wiki-style” report addressing 68 questions on characteristics of Long-Term Care (LTC) systems, impacts of COVID-19 on LTC, measures adopted to mitigate these impacts and new reforms countries are adopting to address structural problems in LTC systems and to improved preparedness for future events. It is compiled and updated voluntarily by experts on LTC all over the world. Members of the Social Care COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery project are moderating the entries and editing as needed.

The report can be read by question/topic (below) or by country: COVID-19 and Long-Term Care country profiles.


To cite this report (please note the date in which it was consulted as the contents changes over time):

Comas-Herrera A, Marczak J, Byrd W, Lorenz-Dant K, Patel D, Pharoah D (eds.) and LTCcovid contributors. LTCcovid International living report on COVID-19 and Long-Term Care. LTCcovid, Care Policy & Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science. https://doi.org/10.21953/lse.mlre15e0u6s6

Copyright is with the LTCCovid and Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, LSE.


 

The first COVID-19 outbreak in Australian residential aged care occurred on 4 March 2020 at Dorothy Henderson Lodge, an 80-bed facility in Sydney. A second cluster followed in April 2020 in Newmarch House, a 102 bed facility in Sydney.

After the initial containment of COVID-19 in Australia in May 2020, in June 2020 a second wave in Victoria spread rapidly through Melbourne-bases nursing homes.

During 2020 and 2021 case numbers and deaths have been concentrated the in two most heavily populated states, NSW and Victoria.

Last updated: January 17th, 2022


After a relatively successful start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appeared that Hong Kong’s strict zero-COVID policy had succeeded in protecting the population (including people living in care homes and relying on care from others) from COVID-19. However this situation has changed during the Omicron wave (see question 2.02). Perhaps due to this early success, the vaccination rates among older people are very low, even among the care home population.

Last updated: March 23rd, 2022


In Spain, the covid crisis has revealed the fragility of the long-term care system and has had a significant impact on the men and women who provide care, both in families (unpaid) and paid. In the social care sector, carers include family caregivers, care service workers and domestic workers. In all these cases, there is a strong predominance of women, many of whom have experienced the effects of the pandemic with great vulnerability and precariousness (Comas-d’Argemir et al., 2021).

The social care sector was practically ignored at the beginning of the pandemic until the extreme situation in care homes triggered a new crisis within the health emergency. This neglect had severe consequences for older people and people with disabilities and carers. The delay in supplying protective equipment to the workers facilitated contagion between the staff and the residents. There was also a strong impact of covid in care homes in other European countries, but Spain is one of those that suffered it most virulently (see the LTCcovid compilation of data here). Social, political, and cultural factors that give little value to social care, older people and people with disabilities, explain this neglect and the deficits of the social care system (Daly, 2020). The underfunding of the dependency care system also had an impact: historical lack of investment, setbacks in applying the Dependency Law, insufficient staff in the services, and precarious working conditions (Costa-Font et al., 2021; Navarro and Pazos, 2020). The coronavirus crisis has highlighted all of these problems and, at the same time, has given visibility to the importance and essential role of care in maintaining life and for the functioning of the economy and society (Bahn et al., 2020).

In part due to the urgency of the pandemic, the role of women in health crises has tended to be ignored (Smith, 2019), and this has also happened in Spain with the coronavirus pandemic. While the government assumed the health part of the pandemic, it placed the rest of the responsibility to fight the pandemic with households. The confinement and the measures adopted with the declaration of the state of alarm, which lasted for months, led to an increase in care tasks at home and required an extraordinary effort, especially from women (Comas-d’Argemir and Bofill -Poch, 2021). The family has been the pillar of the response to the pandemic, without this being explicitly acknowledged. The pandemic has redistributed social functions (due to the closure of day centres, educational centres, a saturation of health services, etc.) which have been assumed fundamentally by the women of the family. In parallel, the impact of covid on health and social care personnel, who have had to work without adequate protection materials and in unsafe working conditions, has also been cause for concern. The pandemic has confronted workers with unprecedented, high-tension situations that are emotionally difficult to deal with (related to illness and death, fear, isolation…), which in many cases have left profound consequences on their physical and psychological health. Women have been working on the front lines of the pandemic, and although the health sector has received social recognition for its work, this has not been the case with nursing home or care service workers (Comas-d’Argemir et al., 2021).

Video accounts of the experience of providing care in Spain during the pandemic (in Spanish)

These videos were made for the project CUMADE: El cuidado importa. Impacto de género en las cuidadoras/es de mayores y dependientes en tiempos de la Covid-19 (Comas-d’Argemir y Bofill-Poch, 2021).

Conxita and Rafael: family carers

 

Participants: Rafael Hervás (Castellon), who is carer to his wife and Conxita Vallès (Barcelona), who is a carer to her mother.

Iñaki: functional diversity support

 

Participant: Iñaki Martínez (Barcelona), who is a personal assistant and President of the Asociación Profesional de Asistencia Personal.

Ruth and Janire: Care professionals in care homes

Participants: Ruth González (L’Ametlla del Vallès), who is a geriatric assistant at the Fundació Antònia Roura care home, and Janire Diaz (Bilbao) who is a trade unionist, responsible for the socio-health area of Gipuzkoa in the Syndicate Eusko Langileen Alkartasuna- Solidarity of Basque Workers (ELA).

Patricia and Carolina: home care workers

Participants: Carolina Elías (Madrid), President of the association Servicio Doméstico Activo (SEDOAC) and Patricia Zapata (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat), Domestic and care worker, member of the association Mujeres Unidas entre Tierras (MUET)

Marina: Community initiatives

Participant: Marina García (Granada) Promoter of the Albaicín Town Hall Care Group, Granada

 

Caring in the pandemic (ALL PARTICIPANTS)
References

Bahn, Kate; Cohen, Jennifer y Van del Meulen Rodgers, Yana (2020): “A feminist perspective on COVID-19 and the value of care work globally”, Gender Work Organization, 27, 695-699.

Comas -d’Argemir, Dolors y Bofill-Poch, Sílvia (2021): “Entrevista a María Ángeles Durán ‘Pandemia y Cuidados’”, en Dolors Comas-d’Argemir y Sílvia Bofill-Poch (eds.), El cuidado de mayores y dependientes. Avanzando hacia la igualdad de género y la justicia social, Barcelona, Icaria, 35-54.

Comas-d’Argemir, Dolors; Legarreta, Matxalen y García Sainz, Cristina (2021), “Residencias, las grandes olvidadas”, en en Comas-d’Argemir, Dolors y Bofill-Poch, Sílvia (eds.) (2021): El cuidado importa. Impacto de género en las cuidadoras/es de mayores y dependientes en tiempos de la Covid-19, Fondo Supera COVID-19 Santander-CSIC-CRUE Universidades Españolas. www.antropologia.urv.cat/es/investigacion/proyectos/cumade/

Costa-Font, Joan; Jiménez Martin, Sergi y Viola, Analía (2012): “Fatal underfunding? Explaining COVID-19 mortality in Spanish nursing homes”, Journal of Aging and Health, 33, 7-8, 607-617.

Daly, Mary (2020): “COVID?19 and care homes in England: What happened and why?”, Social Policy & Administration, 54, 7, 985-998.

Navarro, Vicenç y Pazos, María (2020): El cuarto pilar del Estado del Bienestar. Propuesta para cubrir necesidades esenciales de cuidado, crear empleo y avanzar hacia la igualdad de género. Propuestas presentadas en el Grupo de Trabajo de Políticas Sociales y Sistema de Cuidados de la Comisión para la Reconstrucción social y económica del Congreso de los Diputados (15 de junio), Enlace.

Last updated: March 21st, 2022   Contributors: Carlos Chirinos  |  


In Turkey, older people (over 65s) and children under 20 were subject to a strict curfew between March and June 2020 (Akkan, 2020).

Case Study of a Care Home in Istanbul (Özten et al, 2021)

A recent report describes successful pandemic response measures in a nursing home in Istanbul. This nursing home (which is one of the biggest nursing homes in the country, with 679 residents) managed to avoid COVID-19 cases altogether (for both residents and employees) during the first year of the pandemic by using a working plan to successfully prevent cross-contamination.

Within the first month of the global outbreak, this nursing home had introduced the use of protective equipment and temperature checks for all employees (including face-shields and disposable clothing), the announcement of a COVID-19 protocol – including preventative measures and an algorithm for positive cases – and temporary suspension of new admissions and visitors, among other measures. In the eleven months to follow, further safety measures were implemented such as regular PCR testing for all staff, restricted access for staff to different areas of the building, and an assigned quarantine ward for residents with suspicious symptoms.

Psychosocial support was given to residents, to mitigate fears of death and abandonment: exercise activities were carried out periodically, and the message “we are with you, you are not alone and unattended” was repeatedly communicated to residents. Psychosocial support was also offered to staff, whose levels of stress increased due to the newly implemented 15-day shift patterns. Group communication therapies were offered, and various solutions were offered to mitigate feelings of anxiety from being separated from family (Özten et al, 2021).

References:

Akkan B and Canbazer C (2020) The Long-Term Care response to COVID-19 in Turkey. LTCcovid, International Long-Term Care Policy Network, CPEC-LSE, 10 June 2020.

Özten O, Aytekin Akta? T, Süer H, Do?an H, Üner A, Özp?nar S, Ayy?ld?z Y, Bekta? H, Saka B. 2021. A 15-day Working Shift Prevent the Cross-contamination of Coronavirus Disease-2019 in a Nursing Home in Turkey. Eur J Geriatr Gerontol 2021;3(3):131-133

Last updated: January 26th, 2022   Contributors: Daisy Pharoah  |  


There is little information available on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those who use and provide LTC specifically.  Compared with other countries, and as a result of strong and multidimensional solutions and a compliant population, Vietnam maintained a relatively low number of confirmed infections and older patients throughout most of the pandemic (Tung, 2020).

Economic Impact

As most elderly people in Vietnam live with their families, a major source of income for older people is family support. However, because of the pandemic and related lockdowns, more than half the workforce has been negatively affected: the income of roughly 75% of all households has reduced. This has compromised the amount of assistance that households can provide to older family members, including those with older members who need medical care. These households are therefore at increased risk of falling into poverty as a result of the pandemic (source: Aging Asia report).

References:

Tung, L. T. (2020). Social Responses for Older People in COVID-19 Pandemic: Experience from Vietnam. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 63, 682–687. https://doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2020.1773596

Last updated: December 30th, 2021   Contributors: Daisy Pharoah  |  


Contributors to the LTCcovid Living International Report, so far:

this list is regularly updated to reflect contributions to the report, if you’d like to contribute please email a.comas@lse.ac.uk

Elisa Aguzzoli, Liat Ayalon, David Bell, Shuli Brammli-Greenberg, Erica BreuerJorge Browne Salas, Jenni Burton, William Byrd, Sara CharlesworthAdelina Comas-Herrera, Natasha Curry, Gemma Drou, Stefanie Ettelt, Maria-Aurora Fenech, Thomas Fischer, Nerina Girasol, Chris Hatton, Kerstin HämelNina Hemmings, David Henderson, Kathryn Hinsliff-Smith, Iva Holmerova, Stefania Ilinca, Hongsoo Kim, Margrieta Langins, Shoshana Lauter, Kai Leichsenring, Elizabeth Lemmon, Klara Lorenz-Dant, Lee-Fay Low, Joanna Marczak, Elisabetta Notarnicola, Cian O’DonovanCamille Oung, Disha Patel, Martina Paulikova, Eleonora Perobelli, Daisy Pharoah, Stacey Rand, Tine Rostgaard, Olafur H. Samuelsson, Maximilien Salcher-Konrad, Benjamin Schlaepfer, Cheng Shi, Cassandra Simmons, Andrea E. SchmidtAgnieszka Sowa-Kofta, Wendy Taylor, Thordis Hulda Tomasdottir, Sharona Tsadok-Rosenbluth, Sara Ulla Diez, Lisa van Tol, Patrick Alexander Wachholz, Jae Yoon Yi, Jessica J. Yu

This report has built on previous LTCcovid country reports and is supported by the Social Care COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery project, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (NIHR202333) and by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network and the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the funders.