Impact of the first wave of COVID-19 on the health and psychosocial well-being of Māori, Pacific Peoples and New Zealand Europeans living in aged residential care

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Australasian Journal on Ageing


Objective: To investigate the impact of New Zealand's (NZ) first wave of COVID-19, which included a nationwide lockdown, on the health and psychosocial well-being of Māori, Pacific Peoples and NZ Europeans in aged residential care (ARC). Methods: interRAI assessments of Māori, Pacific Peoples and NZ Europeans (aged 60 years and older) completed between 21/3/2020 and 8/6/2020 were compared with assessments of the same ethnicities during the same period in the previous year (21/3/2019 to 8/6/2019). Physical, cognitive, psychosocial and service utilisation indicators were included in the bivariate analyses. Results: A total of 538 Māori, 276 Pacific Peoples and 11,322 NZ Europeans had an interRAI assessment during the first wave of COVID-19, while there were 549 Māori, 248 Pacific Peoples and 12,367 NZ Europeans in the comparative period. Fewer Māori reported feeling lonely (7.8% vs. 4.5%, p = 0.021), but more NZ Europeans reported severe depressive symptoms (6.9% vs. 6.3%, p = 0.028) during COVID-19. Lower rates of hospitalisation were observed in Māori (7.4% vs. 10.9%, p = 0.046) and NZ Europeans (8.1% vs. 9.4%, p < 0.001) during COVID-19. Conclusions: We found a lower rate of loneliness in Māori but a higher rate of depression in NZ European ARC populations during the first wave of COVID-19. Further research, including qualitative studies with ARC staff, residents and families, and different ethnic communities, is needed to explain these ethnic group differences. Longer-term effects from the COVID-19 pandemic on ARC populations should also be investigated.

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