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Older people's experiences of community engagement in aged care: A qualitative study

  • Helen Rawson
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: Tel: +61 3 9905 0940.
    Affiliations
    Monash University Nursing and Midwifery, Clayton Campus, 35 Rainforest Walk, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, Australia

    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3168, Australia
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  • Kerry Rigby
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3168, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
  • Cherene Ockerby
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3168, Australia
    Search for articles by this author
  • Helen Forbes
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia

    Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research - Monash Health Partnership, Monash Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Victoria, 3168, Australia
    Search for articles by this author

      Summary of relevance

      • Problem: Limited research has explored older people's experience of community engagement within the aged care community and the wider community.
      • What is Already Known
      • People receiving aged care services are not always supported to engage within aged care and the wider community.
      • What this Paper Adds
      • Findings highlight that in residential aged care, staff provide the main connection for residents within aged care and the wider community. In independent living communities, people value independence. Nurses and care staff and aged care providers have a key role in helping older people stay connected. Strategies to promote engagement must be appropriate and meaningful to people in aged care.

      Abstract

      Background

      Engagement and social connection are key elements of a meaningful life however the current aged care system does not universally foster community connectedness. Limited research has explored community engagement from the perspective of older people in aged care.

      Aim

      To explore older people's perceptions of community engagement in aged care.

      Methods

      A qualitative exploratory descriptive approach involving individual interviews and focus groups

      Setting

      A large not-for-profit aged care provider in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia.

      Participants

      Twenty-eight older adults living in residential aged care (n = 23) and independent living units (n = 5).

      Findings

      Four themes were identified: (i) a new home; (ii) opportunities to engage in aged care; (iii) connecting with the wider community, and; (iv) social connection to community.

      Discussion

      Participants perceived community as being characterised by the notion of home, that is, the place where they lived. Being socially connected to a community was important and benefits included being with people to avoid being alone, reconnecting with the wider community and having positive social connections. Opportunities for engagement were either created for, or by them. In residential aged care, staff facilitated engagement opportunities using a one-size-fits-all approach. This approach was deemed to be unsuitable. People from independent living units, although not completely removed from the wider community, desired to maintain their independence and be part of the wider community.

      Conclusions

      Understanding older people's perceptions of community engagement in aged care can support development of appropriate, applicable and meaningful strategies to promote engagement and socialisation within aged care and the wider community.

      Keywords

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