Activity matters

When an older person moves into residential aged care, it is often family members who make the decision about which facility is selected. Previous research has shown that a range of factors are considered by the decision-makers, but little information was available about what occupational aspects were taken into account. This is going to become more and more important, for both families and residential aged care facilities, as New Zealand's older population increases.

It is important for older people's wellbeing to have opportunities to be occupied. 

Claire Everts undertook a research project on this topic for her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours). She interviewed three people who had each chosen a residential aged care facility for a parent to move to. Thematic analysis of the interview data revealed the following factors were considered:

  • The quality of the leisure and recreation programme available.
  • Their parent's potential connection to established activities eg gardens, a cat.
  • The general level of 'activity' or 'life' within the facility.
  • Environmental influences - physical (eg staying in the same community), social (eg knowing residents or staff already) and cultural.

It is encouraging that relatives of older people being placed in residential aged care are becoming more aware of the need to be occupied with everyday activities. There is increasing awareness that sitting passively all day without any engagement in activity or social interaction is not conducive to the wellbeing of the older person.

Image credit: Radfield Home Care, used with permission, all rights reserved

November 2020