"Because if I don't hold his hand then I might as well not be there": Experiences of Dutch and UK care home visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic

C. Giebel*, B. de Boer, M. Gabbay, P. Marlow, A. Stoop, D. Gerritsen, H. Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To explore and compare the experiences of care home visits during the pandemic in the UK and the Netherlands. Design: Qualitative semi-structured interview studies Setting and Participants: Family carers of relatives residing in care homes in the UK and the Netherlands were interviewed remotely. Methods: Family carers were asked about their experiences of care home visits during the pandemic, and specifically in the Netherlands after care homes had reopened. Transcripts were analyzed in each country separately in the native language using thematic analysis, before discussing findings at multiple analysis meetings. Results: Across 125 interviews, we developed four themes: (1) different types of contact during lockdown; (2) deterioration of resident health and well-being; (3) emotional distress of both visitors and residents; and (4) compliance to guidelines and regulations. Visiting in both the UK and the Netherlands was beneficial, if possible in the UK, yet was characterized by alternative forms of face-to-face visits which was emotionally distressing for many family carers and residents. In the Netherlands, government guidance did enable early care home visitation, while the UK was lacking any guidance leading to care homes implementing restrictions differently. Conclusions and Implications: Early and clear guidance, as well as communication, is required in future pandemics, and in this ongoing pandemic, to enable care home visits between residents and loved ones. It is important to take learnings from this global pandemic to reimagine long-term care, highlighting the value of socializing for care home residents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2023


  • dementia
  • care homes
  • COVID-19
  • BACK
  • RISK

Cite this