Title of Work

Exploring assisted-living older adults’ experience and perceived psychosocial benefits of compassionate presence sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

April 2021


Background: The prevalence of severe loneliness among older people living in care homes is about 22% to 42% compared to 10% for the community population. The social distancing measure instituted to lower COVID-19 spread fuels the loneliness epidemic among older adults in care settings. Purpose: This study explored assisted-living older adults' experience and perceived psychosocial benefits of compassionate presence sessions facilitated by college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This study is an exploratory qualitative study that took place in two assisted-living facilities in the Twin Cities. Twenty-four older adults participated in 10-week virtual compassionate presence sessions. Participants were interviewed at the end of the intervention. Results: Results show that participants benefitted emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually from the CP sessions. Participants reported a decreased feeling of loneliness, improved mood, and increased feeling of self-worth. The deep connection between student facilitators and older adults seemed to enhance older adults' sense of meaning in life, easing their feeling of loneliness and isolation during this pandemic. The CP program created opportunities for participants to interact with people other than their fellow residents. A few participants reported improved memory. Implications: This study's findings may inform administrators of assisted-living facilities of the need to support and promote programs that allow older adults to empty their hearts. Such an opportunity can help them dig deeper into their inner resources and discover the meaning beneath their life experiences or suffering. The study also highlights the need to offer compassionate presence training sessions to people entrusted with older adults' care in long-term care facilities.

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