About this project

Care home study maps lockdown impact on families

holding hands

A new study to gauge how lockdown restrictions have affected the families of care home residents.

Edinburgh researchers and colleagues at other Scottish universities will assess the psychological impact – and the wider social repercussions – of distancing and other Covid-19 related constraints.

The team, led by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science, will also explore how physical-distancing restrictions on their families have influenced the quality of care provided for residents.

The study will explore the creative methods used to encourage positive interaction between care home residents and their loved ones. Its findings will inform future policy and practice.

Significant effect

Restrictions such as social distancing and reduced personal contact have had a significant effect on people living in care homes.

Since lockdown, residents’ family members and non-essential visitors have been unable to enter care home premises. 

Lead researcher Dr George Palattiyil, Senior Lecturer of Social Work, said ongoing involvement is a key concern for families once a relative has been admitted to a care home.

Lockdown, he added, has the potential to compound any fears and anxieties, and possibly amplify the psychological impact of having a family member in care. 

Working together

Researchers will work with care homes across Scotland to recruit around 50 family carers whose relatives are residents. They will be interviewed and asked to fill out an online survey.

Staff in care homes will also be invited to share innovative ways they have managed to communicate with relatives.

This is a collaborative, cross-institutional project, with researchers from the University’s Usher Institute, the University of the West of Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Institute for Research & Innovation in Social Services.

The project has been awarded £150,000 by the Chief Scientist Office. Researchers will engage with Scottish Government policy teams throughout the project.


An understanding of how to support the health and wellbeing of family caregivers and loved ones supporting older people is significant given the impact the pandemic is having.

Dr George Palattiyil
Lead researcher

We believe that the learning in relation to how creative methods can be used to encourage positive interaction between care home residents and their loved ones will be an important contribution in the long term.

Dr Dina Sidhva
Co-Investigator, University of the West of Scotland

Translating the findings from our study to inform policy and practice, improving the experience of having relatives in care for the future, is a key priority for the research team.

Dr Neil Quinn
Co-Investigator, University of Strathclyde

The project has a robust dissemination plan to ensure effective, world-reaching dissemination of methodology, learning and outputs.

Rikke Iversholt, Director
Co-Investigator, Iriss



Project partners

Chief Scientists Office
The University of Edinburgh
University of Strathclyde
University of the west of Scotland