The impact of Covid-19 on residential care facilities: a national survey during the lockdown in Italy

Mara Sanfelici

The research had the aim of giving voice to the perspective of front line social workers, highlighting emerging challenges within the residential care settings, and the ways in which they tried to cope with them. During the first stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, several of the key determinants of care were under threat due to infection control measures, such as imposed visit restrictions and physical distancing. Social workers had to find new ways to support both residents and families, and guarantee constant information and active participation, in a context in which both residents and professionals were experiencing feelings of fear and uncertainty. The strategies to cope with such harsh circumstances described by the respondents show the key role that social work can play in the management of a health crisis in residential care settings. Social workers were able to provide socioemotional and relational care through meaning-enhancing activities and relationship-building, giving importance to the aspects of life that do not pertain to the technical practices for curing physical pathologies.


Covid-19, disaster management, residential care, social work with older people, relational social work.