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A new cross-institutional study will examine how lockdown restrictions have affected the families of care home residents.

Researchers from UWS, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and the Institute for Research & Innovation in Social Services will assess the psychological impact – and the wider social repercussions – of distancing and other Covid-19 related constraints.

The team will explore how physical-distancing restrictions on their families have influenced the quality of care provided for residents. The study will also explore the creative methods used to encourage positive interaction between care home residents and their loved ones. Its findings will inform future policy and practice.

The study is led by Dr George Palattiyil from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science. He said: “An understanding of how to support the health and wellbeing of family caregivers and loved ones supporting older people is significant given the impact the pandemic is having.”

Significant effect

Restrictions such as social distancing and reduced personal contact have had a significant effect on people living in care homes. Since lockdown, residents’ family members and non-essential visitors have been unable to enter care home premises.

Professor Debbie Tolson, Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice

Co-Investigator, University of the West of Scotland, said: “Older care home residents and residents with dementia have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. This study recognises and values family caring and the creativity of staff who have kept people connected. I am very proud to be part of this interdisciplinary research team.”   

Working together

Researchers will work with care homes across Scotland to recruit around 50 family carers whose relatives are residents. They will be interviewed and asked to fill out an online survey. Additionally, staff in care homes will also be invited to share innovative ways they have managed to communicate with relatives.

Dr Dina Sidhva, the UWS lead researcher added: “We believe that the learning in relation to how creative methods can be used to encourage positive interaction between care home residents and their loved ones will be an important contribution in the long term.”

The project has been awarded £150,000 by the Chief Scientist Office. Researchers will engage with Scottish Government policy teams throughout the project.

It is truly humbling to see how our researchers are making a significant contribution to the efforts addressing numerous and complex COVID-19 challenges. The pandemic has caused human suffering at a global scale and we are extremely grateful to the interdisciplinary and cross-institutional project team for their tireless work to help hardest-hit communities as well as the Chief Scientist Office for recognising the immense value of their research.

Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation & Engagement at UWS.

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