Marie-Chantal Falardeau is a postdoctoral fellow at the Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. She is coordinating a three-year research project aimed at developing and evaluating a program promoting goodwill and countering resident-to-resident aggression in independent living facilities. With a university education in communication (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate), her other research interests are varied and focus on the rehabilitation of individuals who have suffered trauma, social inclusion, culture (popular culture, continuous improvement in Quebec museum institutions, cultural mediation) and the evolution of communication as an academic discipline.
Resident-to-resident aggression (RRA) during COVID-19: Effects for older adults and for RRA in independent living facilities in Quebec, Canada
Marie-Chantal Falardeau, University of Sherbrooke and Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults, Canada
Marie Beaulieu, University of Sherbrooke and Research Chair on Mistreatment of Older Adults, Canada
Hélène Carbonneau, University of Québec in Trois-Rivières, Canada
Mélanie Levasseur, University of Sherbrooke and Research Centre on Aging, Canada
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation related to COVID-19 a global pandemic due to its spread and severity. The last year has shown that older adults are particularly at risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus and being affected by it. The measures implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19, especially the lockdown of older adults in their own apartments or rooms for those living in a community environment, have impacted their social relationships. For those living in independent facilities, little is known about the effects of those measures, including on resident-to-resident aggression (RRA).
The objective of this presentation is to understand the effects of the pandemic on older adults living in independent facilities and for RRA.
To achieve this goal, we collaborated with four independent living facilities in the Eastern Townships and Montérégie, two regions in Quebec, Canada. Data collection took place in the pandemic setting from March 5, 2020, to January 11, 2021. In total, 25 individual interviews were conducted with older adults who have experienced RRA (n = 13), and members of staff (n = 6) and external stakeholders (n = 6) who intervene in this type of situation.
The participants reported that the pandemic and the measures implemented to limit the spread of the virus had psychological and social effects on residents and their living environment. For instance, some residents felt a loss of autonomy by becoming dependent on others for daily tasks such as grocery shopping. The new rules also appeared to exacerbate the social isolation experienced by residents and accentuate negative feelings. Furthermore, the pandemic context had three specific effects on RRA according to the participants. First, the survival of the residents was outweighing the importance of resolving RRA, showing a minimization of consequences of RRA in a pandemic context. Second, the necessary adaptation of members of staff and external stakeholders to implement sanitary measures also had an impact on RRA and led to the suspension of these situations and their resolution. At last, the pandemic and the new rules in independent living facilities for older adults led to new situations of RRA, particularly with regard to the wearing of masks or the registration for leisure activities, limited in this context. An important finding of this study is that RRA does not disappear, but rather is transferred to the new context, in this case the COVID-19 pandemic.
To our knowledge, this study is the first to examine the effects of the pandemic on older adults living in independent facilities and on RRA. Combining residents’ point of view with those of members of staff and external stakeholders proved to be essential to better understand how RRA manifest itself. Considering the indefinite duration of the pandemic and its effects on RRA, it is important that decision-makers give a voice to older adults and their experiences, along with those of other stakeholders, to define measures adapted to them.