Title. Resident perspectives of the determinants of quality of life in residential care in Ireland.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to identify the determinants of quality of life for older people living in residential care, including exploration of mediating factors at personal and institutional levels and to construct a model of these.
Background. The quality of life of older people living in residential care is an under-researched area. The focus in the gerontology literature has been on quality of care rather than quality of life for these people. There is emerging consensus, however, that quality of life for older people is a complex, multidimensional concept, incorporating both subjective and objective elements, whether people live at home or in residential care.
Method. A grounded theory study was conducted in 2005–2006. A total of 101 interviews were undertaken with older people across 12 sites, representing different types of residential care in Northern Ireland. The constant comparative technique was used to analyse data.
Findings. Four themes having an impact on the quality of life of residents were identified: ethos of care; sense of self and identity; connectedness; and activities and therapies. Mediating and facilitating and/or constraining factors for quality of life were also identified. The core category was conceptualized as ‘maximizing potential’.
Conclusion. Achieving optimal quality of life for older people in residential care will remain elusive unless all the factors which affect on it are taken into account by practitioners and policy-makers. Improving the quality of life of older people in residential care will require action in respect of all of the domains identified in this paper.