UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Disruptions in Relational Continuity : The Impact of Pandemic Public Health Measures on Families in Long-Term Care Cooke, Heather A.; Wu, Sarah A.; Bourbonnais, Anne; Baumbusch, Jennifer


Although the value of family caregivers’ involvement with relatives in long-term care (LTC) is well recognized, tensions remain regarding their role. Such tensions were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic as strict public health measures restricted family access to LTC homes. Using interpretive description, we examined the impact of visitation restrictions on family caregivers’ experiences caring for a relative in LTC between March 2020 and June 2021. In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 family caregivers (five spouses and nine adult daughters) and two key themes were identified. The first theme, “seeking to maintain relational continuity,” illustrates how caregivers sought to sustain connections with residents prior to and during the pandemic. The second theme, “disrupted relational continuity,” highlights the impact of severed relational connections on caregivers’ sense of self and ongoing feelings of loss and anger. Findings call for a trauma-informed approach that recognizes the pervasiveness of trauma for family caregivers and the avoidance of re-traumatization.

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