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Navigating mealtimes to meet public health mandates in long-term care during COVID-19: staff perspectives

Dakkak, Hana, Wu, Sarah A., Trinca, Vanessa, Cammer, Allison, Harvie, Ruth, Lengyel, Christina, O’Rourke, Hannah M., Slaughter, Susan E., Carrier, Natalie and Keller, Heather (2023) Navigating mealtimes to meet public health mandates in long-term care during COVID-19: staff perspectives. Journal of Long-Term Care, 2023. 260 - 272. ISSN 2516-9122

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Identification Number: 10.31389/jltc.217


Context: Mealtimes in long-term care (LTC) settings play a pivotal role in the daily lives of residents. The COVID-19 pandemic and the required precautionary infection control mandates influenced many aspects of resident care within LTC homes, including mealtimes. Limited research has been conducted on how mealtimes in LTC were affected during the pandemic from staff perspectives. Objective: To understand the experiences of LTC staff on providing mealtimes during the pandemic. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 22 staff involved with mealtimes between February and April 2021. Transcripts were analysed using interpretive description. Findings: Three themes emerged from the analysis: (1) recognizing the influence of homes’ contextual factors. Home size, availability of resources, staffing levels and resident care needs influenced mealtime practices during the pandemic; (2) perceiving a compromised mealtime experience for residents and staff. Staff were frustrated and described residents as being dissatisfied with mealtime and pandemic-initiated practices as they were task-focused and socially isolating and (3) prioritizing mealtimes while trying to stay afloat. An ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, maintaining connections and being adaptive were strategies identified to mitigate the negative impact of the mandates on mealtimes during the pandemic. Limitations: Perspectives were primarily from nutrition and food service personnel. Implications: Overly restrictive public health measures resulted in mealtime practices that prioritized tasks and safety over residents’ quality of life. Learning from this pandemic experience, homes can protect the relational mealtime experience for residents by fostering teamwork, open and frequent communication and being flexible and adaptive.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2023 14:57
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 20:27

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