Aim. The aim of this study was to explore the quality of life of older people living in long-stay care in Ireland from the perspectives of residents and staff.
Background. While the literature on quality of life is complex, several areas of agreement are evident. Quality of life is a multi-dimensional concept, which cannot be explained solely in medical terms and only makes sense if presented in an holistic context. Quality of life contains both subjective and objective elements; therefore, there is a need to take account of both when measuring the concept.
Method. A mixed method research design was selected for this study. Three methods were employed; focus groups (n = 7) a quantitative survey of 526 long-stay facilities and qualitative interviews with 101 residents and 48 staff.
Results. The findings revealed four thematic domains of quality of life: care environment and ethos of care, personal identity, connectedness to family and community and activities and therapies.
Conclusion. The study found that there were differences in resident experiences across care study sites and important differences in staffing provision, skill mix and physical environment between private and public facilities. Several factors were also found that either enhanced or diminished residents’ potential to retain their connections and relationships with other people. Finally, residents were most likely to participate in activities which were designed to take into account their own particular interests.
Relevance to clinical practice. This study articulates domains of quality of life from the perspective of residents and staff and gives support to the claims that management and organizational structures within long-stay care facilities matter for quality of life. Clear identification of what is important to older people is important as services need to be shaped around quality of life as much as quality of care, notwithstanding the close relationship between the two.