Reopening the doors of Dutch nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis: results of an in-depth monitoring

Raymond T C M Koopmans*, Hilde Verbeek, Annemiek Bielderman, Meriam M Janssen, Anke Persoon, Ivonne Lesman-Leegte, Eefje M Sizoo, Jan P H Hamers, Debby L Gerritsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: On May 11, the Dutch Government allowed 26 nursing homes to welcome 1 visitor per resident, after 2 months of lockdown. The study aimed to monitor in-depth the feasibility of the regulations and their impact on the well-being of residents, their visitors, and healthcare staff.

DESIGN: Mixed-methods study in 5 of the 26 facilities; the facilities were affiliated to an academic network of nursing homes.

PARTICIPANTS: Visitors and healthcare professionals.

INTERVENTION: Allowing visitors using local regulations based on national guidelines.

MEASUREMENTS: Digital questionnaire, analyzing documentation such as infection prevention control protocols, attending meetings of COVID-19 crisis teams, in-depth telephone or in-person interviews with visitors and healthcare professionals, and on-site observations.

RESULTS: National guidelines were translated with great variety into local care practice. Healthcare professionals agreed that reopening would increase the well-being of the residents and their loved ones. However, there were also great worries for increasing workload, increasing the risk of emotional exhaustion, and the risk of COVID-19 infections. Compliance with local regulations was generally satisfactory, but maintaining social distance and correctly wearing face masks appeared to be difficult. Care staff remained ambivalent for fear of infections. In general, allowing visitors was experienced as having a positive impact on the well-being of all stakeholders. Nevertheless, some residents with dementia showed negative effects.

CONCLUSION: The complete lockdown of Dutch nursing homes had a substantial impact on the well-being of the residents. The reopening was welcomed by all stakeholders, but provided a high organizational workload as well as feelings of ambivalence among care staff. In the second wave, a more tailored approach is being implemented. However, facilities are sometimes still struggling to find the right balance between infection control and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1041610221000296
Pages (from-to)391-398
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number4
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • BACK
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • nursing homes
  • qualitative research
  • quality of life (QoL)

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