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The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care

Journal of Aging Studies

Loneliness and depression are serious mental health concerns across the spectrum of residential care, from nursing homes to assisted and retirement living. Psychosocial care provided to residents to address these concerns is typically based on a long-standing tradition of ‘light’ social events, such as games, trips, and social gatherings, planned and implemented by staff.

Although these activities provide enjoyment for some, loneliness and depression persist and the lack of resident input perpetuates the stereotype of residents as passive recipients of Listening Residentscare. Residents continue to report lack of meaning in their lives, limited opportunities for contribution and frustration with paternalistic communication with staff. Those living with dementia face additional discrimination resulting in a range of unmet needs including lack of autonomy and belonging—both of which are linked with interpersonal violence.

Research suggests, however, that programs fostering engagement and peer support provide opportunities for residents to be socially productive and to develop a valued social identity. The purpose of this paper is to offer a re-conceptualization of current practices. We argue that residents represent a largely untapped resource in our attempts to advance the quality of psychosocial care.

We propose overturning practices that focus on entertainment and distraction by introducing a new approach that centers on resident contributions and peer support.

We offer a model—Resident Engagement and Peer Support (REAP)—for designing interventions that advance residents’ social identity, enhance reciprocal relationships and increase social productivity. This model has the potential to revolutionize current psychosocial practice by moving from resident care to resident engagement.

Link to full article: http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1S0Da3AT7i3DVx

Theurer, K., Mortenson, B., Stone, R., Suto, M., Timonen, V., & Rozanova, J. (2015). The need for a social revolution in residential care. Journal of Aging Studies, 35, 201-210. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2015.08.011

Posted by Kristine Theurer, MA (Gerontology), PhD Candidate

 

 

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