Befriending older adults in nursing homes : Volunteer perceptions of switching to remote befriending in the COVID-19 era

Journal article


Fearn, Marcia, Harper, Robin, Major, Georgia, Bhar, Sunil, Bryant, Christina, Dow, Briony, Dunt, David, Mnatzaganian, George, O’Connor, Daniel, Ratcliffe, Julie, Samuel, Sarah, Bagnall, Anne Marie and Doyle, Colleen. (2021). Befriending older adults in nursing homes : Volunteer perceptions of switching to remote befriending in the COVID-19 era. Clinical Gerontologist. 44(4), pp. 430-438. https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2020.1868646
AuthorsFearn, Marcia, Harper, Robin, Major, Georgia, Bhar, Sunil, Bryant, Christina, Dow, Briony, Dunt, David, Mnatzaganian, George, O’Connor, Daniel, Ratcliffe, Julie, Samuel, Sarah, Bagnall, Anne Marie and Doyle, Colleen
Abstract

Objectives: Residents in nursing homes are being isolated to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Many are prone to depression, anxiety and loneliness, and extra isolation leaves them vulnerable to compromised mental health. In this study, trained volunteers providing befriending for residents with symptoms of depression, anxiety and loneliness switched to remote befriending during COVID-19. The purpose of this study was to gauge volunteer perceptions of the switch.

Methods: A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to understand how switching to remote befriending impacted on volunteers and residents. A convenience sample of 18 participants responded to questions either in individual or group interviews.

Results: Volunteers adapted their befriending visits, switching from face to face visits to remote options. The format was decided collaboratively. Hearing impairments hindered phone calls. Residents sometimes felt uncomfortable with digital technology but on the whole, the change to remote “visiting” was accepted.

Conclusions: Further research is being conducted to gauge mental health outcomes for residents. Most volunteers and residents accepted the switch to remote befriending as better than no contact.

Clinical implications: Volunteers can provide valuable support for residents living with social isolation during COVID-19. The format for social support needs to be decided collaboratively between volunteer and resident.

Keywordsbefriending; nursing homes; COVID-19; volunteers; mental health
Year2021
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Journal citation44 (4), pp. 430-438
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN0731-7115
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2020.1868646
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85099316237
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range430-438
FunderNational Health and Medical Research Council
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 Jan 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Nov 2021
Grant IDNHMRC/1151065
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