The relationship between social connectedness and mental health for residents of long-term care homes: knowledge synthesis and mobilization

Bethell, Jennifer M | $50,000

Ontario University Health Network 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken a particularly heavy toll among people living in long-term care (LTC) homes; they make up more than half of COVID‑19 deaths in Canada. But the measures put in place to protect their physical health – such as prohibiting visitors and contact with other residents and staff – is also impacting their social connectedness. What has this done to their mental health? And how can we mitigate the negative impact? This knowledge synthesis was designed to provide high quality, timely evidence that helps answer these questions and responds to the immediate needs of people living in LTC homes, their families and the people who work with them. Our team, composed of researchers as well as people with direct experience of living and working in LTC homes, will identify and synthesize research studies that have examined the impact of social connectedness on mental health for people living in LTC homes. We will also identify studies that looked at ways to maintain social connectedness and try to pinpoint which ones could be useful during COVID‑19 as well as other future outbreaks. Our partners will use these results to inform practice and empower LTC home residents and family to advocate for LTC home policies and practices. Our research team will use this knowledge to inform future studies. Our shared goal is to improve the mental health and well-being of people living in LTC homes.

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