Examining the development and utilization of infection control policies to safely support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in congregate living settings during COVID-19
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ObjectiveCongregate living settings supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have experienced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to explore the development and utilization of infection control policies in congregate living settings supporting individuals with IDD during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MethodsThis qualitative study employed an interpretive description using semi-structured interviews involving administrative personnel from agencies assisting those with IDD residing in Developmental Services congregate living settings in Ontario, Canada.
ResultsTwenty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals from 22 agencies. Thematic analysis revealed three categories: Development of infection control policies, Implementation of infection control policies, and Impact of infection control policies. Each category yielded subsequent themes. Themes from the Development of infection control policies category included New responsibilities and interpreting the grey areas, and Feeling disconnected and forgotten. Four themes within the Implementation of infection control policies category included, "It's their home" (i.e. difficulty balancing public health guidance and organizational values), Finding equipment and resources (e.g. supports and barriers), Information overload (i.e. challenges agencies faced when implementing policies), and Emerging vaccination (i.e. perspective of agencies as they navigate vaccination for clients and staff). The category of Impact of infection control policies had one theme-Fatigue and burnout, capturing the impact of policies on stakeholders in congregate living settings.
ConclusionAgencies experienced difficulties developing and implementing infection control policies, impacting the clients they serve and their families and staff. Public health guidance should be tailored to each congregate living setting rather than generally applied.
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