Publication date: Sep 20, 2023
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting restrictions on physical access to long-term care homes culminated in health declines for older adults living there and their families. Knowledge gaps exist regarding maintaining social connectedness when physically separated. The study aimed to explore family members’ perceptions of the impact that restrictions on physical access to long-term care homes had on the experience of social connectedness between family members and older adults living in long-term care. The method used was a qualitative description, using in-depth semi-structured interviews. Themes arising from inductive qualitative content analysis of 21 interviews with family members included: (a) lack of connection threatening mental, emotional health, and physical health; (b) navigating trust in the unknown; (c) feelings of stress and anxiety for family members; and (d) technology – an asset, but not for everyone. Study findings suggest more emphasis should be placed on supporting social connections between older adults and their families in the context of long-term care beyond COVID-19.