Assessment of Disparities and Variation for Alzheimer’s disease Nursing home Care at End of life (ADVANCE) is a multisite qualitative study of regionally diverse NHs (N=14) providing varied intensity of advanced dementia care. ADVANCE-C explored the experiences of NH staff and proxies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data collection occurred in five of the ADVANCE facilities located in Georgia (N=3) and New York (N=2). Semi-structured qualitative interviews with NH staff (N=38) and proxies of advanced dementia residents (N=7) were conducted. Framework analyses explored five staff domains: care processes, decision making, organizational resources, vaccinations, and personal experience, and five proxy domains: connecting with residents, NH response, communicating with NH, decision making, and personal impact of the pandemic.
Staff mentioned difficulties implementing infection control policies specifically for advanced dementia residents. Staff reported trust between the facility and proxies as critical in making decisions during the pandemic. All staff participants spoke about “coming together” to address persistent staffing shortages. Proxies described their role as an “emotional rollercoaster”, emphasizing how hard it was being separate from their loved ones. The accommodations made for NH residents were not beneficial for those with advanced dementia. The majority of proxies felt NH staff were doing their best and expressed deep appreciation for their care.
Caring for advanced dementia residents during the COVID-19 pandemic had unique challenges for both staff and proxies. Strategies for similar future crises should strive to balance best practices to contain the virus while maintaining family connections and person-centered care.