Experiences of Nursing Home Residents During the Covid-19 Pandemic

October 01, 2020

How have Covid-19 restrictions impacted the lives of nursing home residents, and how do these residents feel about those changes? Altarum’s Program to Improve Eldercare sought to answer these questions by surveying the people who are directly affected by the restrictions—the nursing residents themselves, a population that is often frail and vulnerable and whose voices are rarely heard in the public debate over policies that directly and deeply affect their health, well-being, and quality of life.

To address this need, Altarum funded and fielded an online survey, the first of its kind of nursing home residents since the start of the pandemic, from early July to August 2020. We asked residents key questions about their daily life before Covid-19 restrictions were imposed and afterward, including how often they had visitors, left their nursing home for routine activities, went outside to enjoy fresh air, where they ate their meals, and much more. The findings are stark, showing a drastic reduction in social activities and a steep increase in reported feelings of loneliness.

Altarum hopes this report will help to make the case that even if Covid-19 continues to impact life in the U.S. for some time to come (as many healthcare experts believe is likely) that the concepts of “distance socializing” will be widely adopted and built on as a premise for ensuring that nursing home residents—who have for too long been assumed to be merely living out their last days and lacking full personhood—can, with compassionate work and commitment, be safely re-integrated into the larger life of their communities.

Read the report, Experiences of Nursing Home Residents During Covid-19, and the press release.