#Morethanavisitor: Experiences of COVID-19 visitor restrictions in Canadian long-term care facilities

Lorraine M. Thirsk, Sarah Stahlke, Beth Perry, Brogan Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of families, residents, and staff around visitor restriction policies in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Background: Beginning in March 2020, public health orders across Canada restricted visitors to long-term care facilities to curb the spread of the infection. This included family caregivers who provide significant support to residents to meet their physical, psychological, social, and safety needs. Method: We collected data from publicly available news and social media. News articles, blogs, and tweets from Canada were collected from March 2020 to April 2021. In total, 40 news articles, eight blogs, and 23 tweets were analyzed using generic qualitative description. Results: Reports from family members indicate that some residents may have died from malnutrition, dehydration, and isolation, rather than from COVID-19, because of the sudden and prolonged absence of family caregivers. There are long-term impacts on family suffering and long-term care worker burnout. Policy and structural issues were identified. Conclusion: Experiences in long-term care reflected not only impacts of pandemic-related visitor restrictions, but also long-standing funding and workforce issues. Implications: Involvement of family, and specifically family caregivers, is crucial in policy decisions, even in unusual circumstances, such as the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-1427
Number of pages20
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct. 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • family nursing
  • long-term care
  • visitor restrictions


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