EMbRACE project

Research Project

EMbRACE: A co-design examination into the impact of restricted access to residential aged care facilities on care partners during the COVID-19 pandemic

About this project

The EMbRACE project is investigating  the impact of visitor restrictions during COVID-19 on care partners (families and friends) in residential aged care and identify from the perspective of care partners, how residential aged care providers can support their engagement with older people during a period of visitor restrictions.

Family involvement in residential aged care is seen as an integral part of providing quality care to older people, and staff working in partnership with families ensures better outcomes for residents. In this instance, family members are seen as partners in the care of their loved ones. The Family care givers are described as Care Partners in the care team and are distinct from casual visitors because they advocate for their loved ones and support their overall care and wellbeing.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the health risks for older people saw the introduction of visitor restrictions in residential aged care services to manage the presence of visitors, with the aim of maintaining physical distance and minimising the risk of virus transmission. Many aged care providers introduced strict visiting times with visitors only allowed to see their loved ones under strict conditions such as in gardens where physical distancing can be maintained or through ‘window visits’. Instead care partners were encouraged to maintain contact with loved ones using telephone calls or other technological mediums such as Skype and Face Time. As a result, care partners lost physical engagement with their loved ones, activities for residents were limited or stopped and care partners were no longer able to contribute to supporting care for residents.

There were also concerns that residents were being socially isolated during these restrictions. The Department of Health and Human Services instructed that residential aged care providers must balance the safety of residents with appropriate compassionate visits from family.

This project aims to investigate the impact of visitor restrictions during COVID-19 on care partners in residential aged care and identify from the perspective of care partners, how residential aged care service can support their engagement with residents during a period of visitor restrictions.

Project funded by Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Research team

External collaborators