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Long-Term Care Staff Perceptions of Providing Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States and Switzerland: Balancing Protection and Social Isolation

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Abstract

While frontline healthcare workers in intensive care units played a central role during the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff of long-term residential care who cared for older adults were largely forgotten. This is surprising as nursing and care homes registered high morbidity and mortality. The voices of long-term care staff were underrepresented in public discourse. This chapter remedies this omission by comparing and contrasting the experiences of providing care from the perspective of long-term care staff in Switzerland and the United States. Staff in both countries reported anxiety in relation to the risk of infection, as well as challenges in providing care during the pandemic and implementing evolving guidelines. A key issue was ensuring quality of life for residents amid ongoing isolation. There were nuanced differences as Switzerland implemented a more person-centred approach while the US reverted to a medical model of care that prioritized protection of life over quality of life, leading to prolonged lockdowns and extensive social isolation.

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Acknowledgements

The US team included undergraduate Gerontology minors Ally Gustafson and William Bell, who assisted with the media and policy analyses. The Swiss case uses data from the “Tri-National Ethnographic Multi-Case Study on Quality of Life in Long-Term Residential Care” (TRIANGLE), a project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research, an innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 812656 and the Research Fund of the University of Basel. We would like to thank all TRIANGLE team members including Dr. Franziska Zuñiga, Nora Peduzzi, Séverine Soiron, Florian Rutz, Martine Amrein and Matthias Küng, who were involved in data collection, transcription and analysis. Finally, we would like to thank LTRC staff who gave their time for this research, and to all LTRC staff who have worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic. You have our utmost respect.

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Correspondence to Andrea Freidus .

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Freidus, A., Shenk, D., Davies, M., Wolf, C., Staudacher, S. (2022). Long-Term Care Staff Perceptions of Providing Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States and Switzerland: Balancing Protection and Social Isolation. In: Vindrola-Padros, C., Johnson, G.A. (eds) Caring on the Frontline during COVID-19. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6486-1_8

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