9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Gender and Social Class Impact on Informal Caregiving Building II, C5.06

Tracing the link between "feeling at home" and quality of life in residential care settings for older people

This paper will explore the concept of "home" and its significance to residents' quality of life (QoL). Straussian grounded theory was used to examine residents' experiences of residential care, whether they experienced a sense of home and how this impacted on their QoL. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 61 residents living in seven residential care facilities. These settings reflected different types of residential settings in Ireland. Most residents attempted to generate a sense of "home" in the residential setting. "Finding Home" was conceptualised as the core category. The core factors crucial to "finding home" were: "continuity", "preserving personal identity", "belonging" and"being active and working". It was evident that some participants felt at home in the setting while others did not, also that there was a greater chance of residents feeling at home in some settings than in others. Participants who felt at home reported that they lived life on their terms. The qualities they associated with feeling at home were: continuity, privacy, self-expression, activity, feeling useful and valued. These qualities were enhanced or constrained by the physical environment of the setting. The social environment was also key and feelings of warmth and ease were associated with homeliness. Feeling part of the group promoted a sense of belonging. Staff attitudes and approach to care delivery were powerful determinants of residents' experience. The individual's expectations, past experience and involvement in the move coloured their experience of living there and determined the ease with which they settled. The paper will conclude by presenting the "Theory of Finding Home" (ToFH) in residential settings. This theory is offered as a mechanism to help understand and enhance residents? experiences of residential care.