The coronavirus pandemic has challenged health and long-term care systems across the globe. COVID-19 clearly does not respect boundaries of any kind. It does not stop at borders. It will not disappear after a predetermined time period. And it does not affect every individual in the same way. We have learned the hard way that the virus disproportionately impacts older adults, who are most susceptible to infection and, when infected, at greatest risk for serious illness and death.

Organizations that provide care, services, and supports to older adults have been on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, working tirelessly to keep residents, clients, and staff safe. More often than not, these providers have carried out this important mission without adequate resources, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, or staff. They have largely been left to “figure it out” on their own.

Our global network of providers has never been more important than it is today. We support each other by sharing our solutions, strategies, and experiences. More than ever, we value our solidarity around common challenges and the opportunity for global learning that this solidarity provides. The more we can expand our global network and learn from one another, the greater will be our ability to address issues of equity—in care practices, prevention, treatment, and access to information.

This report is a summary of interviews conducted with providers and other stakeholders in 11 countries. These individuals graciously shared how they experienced the global pandemic from February through December 2020. While the insights shared here don’t address the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, which occurred after the interviews took place, they do address a range of other issues and challenges that providers encountered.

The following pages serve as a chronicle of the 2020 provider experience and offer some lessons and observations for our path forward. This report should cause us to consider deeply how we care for and support people in their later years—individuals who have played an integral role in building the societies we now enjoy.


Katie Smith Sloan, Executive Director
Global Ageing Network