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Morale and quality of life among frail older users of community care: key issues for the success of community care

By C. Patmore


Many Social Services Departments have successfully developed services which meet older people’s physical survival needs so that they can continue living in their own homes despite serious disabilities. An emerging priority is to support the morale and quality of life of the same individuals. Assisted by SPRU, a team of Social Services managers conducted a programme of interviews, designed to obtain the views of very old, frail home care clients about their services and their lives in general. Interviewees’ most common discontents concerned difficulties in travelling outside their homes, insufficient social contact, and loss of sources of interest and stimulation in everyday life. Factors included reduced mobility owing to ill-health and loss of valued pastimes like knitting or reading through eyesight problems or arthritis. A few interviewees expressed very low morale and this seemed to substantially reduce their ratings of satisfaction with the help they received. Some interviewees communicated high morale in spite of major physical disabilities. Possible reasons included good social support from family, neighbours, and home care and sheltered housing staff, and help which compensated for physical disability, like car excursions provided by relatives, or electric wheelchairs. There seemed unused opportunities to help other interviewees through similar assistance: sometimes interviewers themselves arranged interventions which brought evident improvements. While it is well established that disability and isolation are linked to depression in older people, it is rare that services systematically address these problems. Some practical strategies for this purpose are proposed as a result of this survey. These merit testing

Year: 2002
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