Residential care homes are likely the area to have been most seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for the older people. Besides from the mortality figures – according to provisional data at least 50% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Catalonia were in care homes – everything suggests that the disease has had many and very significant consequences on the psychological and social well-being of residents, their families and care home workers, not to mention the ethical, political and economic implications driving the actions of service providers and the social and healthcare system.
Like in much of the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic in Catalonia has particularly affected the most vulnerable older people: people over 65 accounted for 90% of the deaths, and people over 75 for 70% of them. The COVID-19 pandemic has had (and is still having) an impact not only on care home residents, but also on their families, the people who work there and the organizations themselves.
It is worth noting that some of these consequences are closely related to the initial response to the crisis, which required the introduction of sectorization and resident lockdown measures. The healthcare response has generally given priority to safety over other matters and the rights of residents and their families. Information and participation in decision-making was restricted, as were visits and activities. This led to social isolation and an increased risk of loneliness. Moreover, residents became fearful of visits and activities, which were greatly limited anyway. All of this has had a significant impact with consequences that may be as terrible as the disease itself, if not more.
In light of the above, the CareNet research group at the UOC’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3-UOC) is taking part in the ResiCOVID-19 project by carrying out research for the qualitative study. More specifically, it is exploring and seeking to understand the impact of the pandemic based on the experiences of older residents, their relatives, care home workers and managers, and planners during the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis on the experiences of women both as professional care workers and as carers for family members.
The ResiCOVID-19 project is being led by the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC). The research groups involved come from both the UOC and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). The project also has international partners from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), Radboud University (the Netherlands), the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK).
The main objectives of the research project are:
O1. Evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people living in geriatric, dependency and mental health residences in Catalonia, as well as on their families, workers and organizations, in the period from March 2020 to present.
O2. Identify challenges and opportunities from the point of view of the experiences, needs and preferences of the diversity of people involved, in order to build up proposals for improved care and enhance the care model that allow a better adaptation to the current crisis and with future perspectives towards people-centered care.
The specific objective corresponding to the part of the qualitative study is:
O1.5. Explore/comprehend the perceived impact of the pandemic and the individual, process and structural factors that the agents involved are associated with this impact through a qualitative study. Specifically, it is intended to know the experiences of geriatric residents, their families, professionals, managers and planners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Special emphasis will be placed on the experiences of women as professionals and caregivers.