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The significance of peer relationships to thriving in nursing homes


  • Ådel Bergland RN,

  • Marit Kirkevold EdD, RN

Ådel Bergland
Lovisenberg Deaconal College
Lovisenberggaten 15
Telephone: +47 22 35 82 00/ +47 22 35 82 02


Aim and objective.  The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe nursing home residents’ perceptions of the significance of relationships with peer residents to their experience of thriving.

Background.  Interactions between nursing home residents are limited. Knowledge about the importance of peer interactions to the residents’ experiences of thriving is scarce.

Design and method.  The study had a descriptive exploratory design and included 26 mentally lucid residents in two nursing homes. Data collection methods included field observation and interviews.

Results.  To contribute to an experience of thriving, peer relationships had to be experienced as positive and meaningful. A personal relationship to peer residents was not essential to an experience of thriving among all the residents. Some of the thriving residents who had not managed to establish a personal relationship expressed wishes for being involved with peers. The caregivers’ role as facilitators in the development of meaningful interactions contributing to thriving was essential.

Conclusions.  Nursing home residents have varied wishes, expectations and capacity to interact with peer residents and the significance of peer relationships to thriving also vary. A personal relationship to peer residents is not essential to the experience of thriving among all residents.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Caregivers in nursing homes have a great impact on how social gatherings intended to develop positive peer interactions and on whether the social gatherings fulfil their intentions. Skilled caregivers can secure pleasant and meaningful social gatherings in nursing homes contributing to an experience of thriving.

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