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'Bringing the outside world in': Enriching social connection through health student placements in a teaching aged care facility

Citation

Annear, MJ and Elliot, K-EJ and Tierney, LT and Lea, EJ and Robinson, A, 'Bringing the outside world in': Enriching social connection through health student placements in a teaching aged care facility, Health Expectations, 20, (5) pp. 1154-1162. ISSN 1369-6513 (2017) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

© 2017 The Authors Health Expectations Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

DOI: doi:10.1111/hex.12561

Abstract

Background: Older adults living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) often experience limited opportunities for social connection despite close proximity to peers, which has implications for mental health and quality of life (QoL). The introduction of large-scale undergraduate health student placements in RACFs may enhance opportunities for meaningful engagement through social connection, although this remains unexplored. Objective: This research explores whether interpersonal encounters between health students and RACF residents influence residentsí opportunities for social connection and QoL.

Methods: A mixed methods design was employed which included questionnaire data from residents, and qualitative interview data from residents, family members and RACF staff. Data were collected during and after student placements to allow for an in-depth exploration of residents, family members and staff perspectives.

Results: Forty-three participants (28 residents, 10 staff and five family members) were recruited during 2014. Overall, many residents had clinical levels of depression, mild cognitive impairment and multiple morbidities, however reported moderate-to-good QoL. Thematic analysis was undertaken on interview transcripts, and three themes emerged: (i) social isolation and loneliness fostered by residentsí age-related conditions, (ii) students expand socially supportive connections beyond the RACF and (iii) meaning making by sharing health experiences, which was found to help renegotiate older adultsí pervasive narrative of vulnerability.

Conclusion: Supported and structured health student placements in RACFs enable older adults to participate in meaningful encounters with younger people. These encounters focus on sharing health experiences and address long-standing issues of isolation and loneliness by providing opportunities for social connection.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:aged care, quality of life, student placements
Research Division:Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Research Group:Psychology
Research Field:Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions)
Objective Field:Neurodegenerative Disorders Related to Ageing
UTAS Author:Annear, MJ (Dr Michael Annear)
UTAS Author:Elliot, K-EJ (Dr Kate-Ellen Elliott)
UTAS Author:Tierney, LT (Mrs Laura Tierney)
UTAS Author:Lea, EJ (Dr Emma Lea)
UTAS Author:Robinson, A (Professor Andrew Robinson)
ID Code:120563
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2017-08-28
Last Modified:2018-07-24
Downloads:71 View Download Statistics

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