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Adjustment to residential care: The experience of newly admitted residents to hostel accommodation in Australia


  • Esther Marshall BOccThy(Hons); Occupational Therapist. Lynette Mackenzie DipCOT, BAppScOT, MEd, PhD; Senior Lecturer.

Lynette Mackenzie, Discipline of Occupational Therapy, University of Sydney, Cumberland Campus, PO Box 170, Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia. Email:


Background/aim: As the population ages, an increased number of older people are entering residential care. Moving into residential care is a challenging adjustment for older people, yet little is documented about the nature of this adjustment from the perspective of new residents.

Methods: A qualitative study was undertaken using interviews conducted with 11 hostel residents. Inductive content analysis techniques were used to gain an in-depth understanding of the processes and perceptions that influenced adjustment to hostel living for participants.

Results: Four themes emerged from the data: (i) accepting the decision, (ii) the importance of home, (iii) fitting in, and (iv) freedom to do the normal things in life. Engagement in meaningful occupations was vital to positive adjustment.

Conclusions: Occupational therapy is well placed to facilitate the process of adjustment to residential care and take a more active role within the hostel system.