Individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities, as well as those over the age of 65, occupy the highest risk categories for contracting and dying from Covid-19. This project focuses on these invisible frontlines of care: the millions of chronically ill and/or elderly Americans who are not institutionalized and instead receiving care at home from family members, specifically their spouses. How is Covid-19 shaping the hidden, intimate worlds of spousal care at home? What are the immediate and potential long-term consequences for these families? How are they coping and what supports do they need? This project uses qualitative research methods to gather meaningful data to constructively inform responses from communities, public actors, and other institutions. Spousal caregivers will be recruited through caregiver support organizations in the US. Through virtual interviews, I expect to find (1) what caregiving looked like pre- and post-Covid-19, (2) their access to and utilization levels of home care supports (like home health aides) and how access to such supports has been affected, and (3) what strategies they are using to adjust to the pandemic, including practices with regard to social isolation and managing fear of infection. Once data are analyzed, the themes I find can pinpoint where policy efforts should be targeted.
Associate Professor, Human Development/Family Studies, University of Connecticut