83 research outputs found

    Networks of care in Australian rural ageing populations

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    Supporting older people to live independently is increasingly complex. In rural areas, factors associated with comparatively poor health status and distance from health care services highlight the importance of informal care networks. Drawing on the convoys of social relations model, this study seeks to develop a comprehensive understanding of the support networks of rural older people. Cross-sectional data were collected from six Australian rural regions via a telephone survey (n = 265). Participants were asked to name up to 15 people in their network and to identify the types of care and assistance they received from network members. A comprehensive analysis was conducted to determine the age, sex, relationship, and proximity of those named. Family members were reported as the first network member for 73.9% of the sample and were the main source of instrumental support. In multivariable analyses, compared with women, men were significantly less likely to receive emotional, transport, and household support. Older individuals (aged 75 or more) were less likely to receive emotional support compared to younger participants. Moreover, those living alone were significantly less likely to receive emotional or household support. This study addresses the scarcity of literature focused on the networks of rural older people and underscores the importance of networks of support as enablers of ageing in place

    Improving attitudes to volunteering among older adults: A randomized trial approach

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    Promoting engagement in formal volunteering represents a potential means of facilitating healthy aging. Given reluctance to participate in volunteering has been partially attributed to negative perceptions of various aspects of this activity, this study assessed whether trialing volunteering can improve perceptions among older people. Using a parallel-group design, Australians aged 60+ years (n = 445) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, one in which they were encouraged to trial volunteering and one in which they were asked to continue their usual activities. Perceptions and attitudes among those in the volunteering condition became significantly more favorable over 6 months relative to those in the control condition, with this change predicted by several aspects of the volunteering experience (e.g., acquisition of skills, increased social connectedness). Providing access to roles that cater to the learning and social needs of older adults appears to be important for improving attitudes toward engaging in volunteer work

    Factors associated with formal volunteering among retirees

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    The present study developed and tested a comprehensive multivariate model designed to assess the relative importance of various factors found or proposed in previous research to be associated with engagement in volunteering among 799 fully retired Australian older adults (62% female; mean age = 71.92\ua0years (SD = 6.69)). Engagement in volunteering in the 12\ua0months preceding the study and a range of sociodemographic, psychological, physical, social, and attitudinal variables were measured. Respondentsā€™ perceived personal responsibility to volunteer was found to be especially important in the tested model. This variable was directly associated with engagement in volunteering and acted as an important mediator between the following variables and volunteering engagement: personal growth, social connectedness, religious attendance, self-rated health, and depression. Efforts to increase volunteering engagement among older adults may therefore need to target perceptions of their responsibility to volunteer. Especially important focus areas for future strategies may include increasing social connectedness, facilitating personal growth, and improving self-rated health

    A randomized controlled trial and pragmatic analysis of the effects of volunteering on the health and well-being of older people

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    Volunteering among older people has the potential to deliver health benefits to the individual, along with economic and social benefits to society. However, it is not clear whether healthier people are more likely to engage in volunteering, whether volunteering improves health, or the extent to which the relationship may be reciprocal. There is an identified need for longitudinal work, especially in the form of randomized controlled trials, to establish causality.To assess the effects of commencing volunteering among older non-volunteers utilizing a randomized controlled trial approach involving per-protocol and pragmatic analyses.Of the 445 Australians aged 60ā€‰+ years who participated in the study, 201 were assigned to an intervention arm that required them to participate in a minimum of 1\ua0h/week of formal volunteering in a position of their choice. The remaining participants were assigned to a control condition and asked to continue their lives as usual, but were not discouraged from commencing volunteering.Across the assessed physical, psychological, and social variables, a significant difference in sit-to-stand scores was found in both the per-protocol and pragmatic analyses, and a further significant difference in the fast pace walk was identified in the pragmatic analyses.The results provide some support for policies and programs designed to encourage older people to engage in volunteering to maintain or improve their health.Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12615000091505

    Expectations of care within marriage for older couples

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    Objectives This study explores the intersection of marriage and caregiving amongst older spousal caregivers in regional Australia. Specifically, we address the research question: ā€˜How do expectations of informal care impact spousal caregivers in later life?ā€™ Methods These comprise interpretive qualitative in-depth interviews in order to understand the lived experience of caregiving within the context of long-term marriage. Results Findings highlight the complexity and diversity of marital relationships as the context of informal care. Individual and social obligations were evident in key themes, demonstrating how spouses automatically assume and continue in caregiver roles in later life. Conclusion Caregiving is an expectation of couples in long-term marriages, regardless of the relationship quality and willingness to care. Normative expectations also impact decision-making around future care planning and transitions away from home-based care. These are important considerations for both policy and practice with older adults and their caregivers

    The new informational paradigm: Developing practice-led approaches to the use of mobile ICT in social work

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    Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has profound impacts on society as people integrate technology into their lives. Social work is similarly influenced by ICT as workplaces, individual practitioners and clients adopt new forms of technology and this has prompted an increasing focus on the implications of technology on all aspects of professional practice. Drawing on the work of Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells as its theoretical foundation, this article reports on a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project that sought to understand the potential practice-led integration of ICTs with traditional social work practice at an organisation in rural Victoria, Australia. Eight participants were provided with tablet computers and collaborated with the researcher over a period of eight months to trial ways in which ICTs might complement traditional face-to-face practice in the field. Findings highlight a range of benefits and challenges in adopting a practice-led approach that spanned three key themes: successful practice-led approaches, technological friction and challenges inherent in what Castells describes as the transition to network enterprises. Findings highlight the need for ongoing research and engagement to ensure that technological advances are implemented in ways that are consistent with the enduring ethics and philosophies of the social work profession

    Predicting wellness among rural older Australians : A cross- sectional study

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    Introduction: Prior research on older peopleā€™s wellbeing and quality of life has lacked clarity and consistency. Research examining older peopleā€™s health has tended to use these different terms and measurement tools interchangeably, which might explain why the evidence is somewhat mixed. There is a paucity of research that uses the multi-dimensional construct of wellness in rural older people. Addressing both limitations, this study seeks to make a unique contribution to knowledge testing an ecological model of wellness that includes intrapersonal factors, interpersonal processes, institutional factors, community factors and public policy. Methods: Six rural case study sites were chosen across two Australian sites, the states of Queensland and Victoria. A community saturation recruitment strategy was utilised. Telephone surveys were conducted with community-dwelling rural older people (n=266) aged ā‰„65 years across the sites. The central variable of the study was wellness as measured by the Perceived Wellness Survey. The ecological model developed included the following intrapersonal factors: physical and mental health, loneliness and social demographic characteristics (age, sex, marital status and financial capability). Interpersonal factors included a measure of social and community group participation, social network size and support provided. Institutional factors were measured by series of questions devised around the resource base environment and access to amenities and services. Results: A hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to determine which variables in the model predict wellness. The results showed that a combination of intrapersonal factors (physical health, mental health, loneliness and financial capability) and interpersonal factors (size of social network and community participation) predicted wellness. However, institutional factors, the resource base environment, and access to amenities and services, contributed only marginally to the model. Community factors, including the personal and physical characteristics of community, also only made a marginal contribution. Conclusions: The study identified the usefulness of using an integrated model of measurement in wellness. This model recognised the interrelated physical, social and economic influences that impact on rural older people throughout their life course. The study found that physical health made the greatest contribution to perceived wellness, followed by mental health. These findings support a body of research that has found that rural older people experience poorer health outcomes than those in urban areas. Lower levels of loneliness were also a strong predictor of perceived wellness, thus supporting research that has examined the impact of loneliness on physical and mental health. The presence of social capital, as measured by social network size, and the degree of community participation, were also predictors of perceived wellness. Overall, the findings of the present study implications for policy as well as subsequent strategies designed to increase the capacity of wellness in rural older people. Such strategies need to consider the contribution of a range of factors

    The new informational paradigm : Developing practice-led approaches to the use of mobile ICT in social work

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    Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has profound impacts on society as people integrate technology into their lives. Social work is similarly influenced by ICT as workplaces, individual practitioners and clients adopt new forms of technology and this has prompted an increasing focus on the implications of technology on all aspects of professional practice. Drawing on the work of Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells as its theoretical foundation, this article reports on a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project that sought to understand the potential practice-led integration of ICTs with traditional social work practice at an organisation in rural Victoria, Australia. Eight participants were provided with tablet computers and collaborated with the researcher over a period of eight months to trial ways in which ICTs might complement traditional face-to-face practice in the field. Findings highlight a range of benefits and challenges in adopting a practice-led approach that spanned three key themes: successful practice-led approaches, technological friction and challenges inherent in what Castells describes as the transition to network enterprises. Findings highlight the need for ongoing research and engagement to ensure that technological advances are implemented in ways that are consistent with the enduring ethics and philosophies of the social work profession

    Political participation and social exclusion in later life: What politically active seniors can teach us about barriers to inclusion and retention

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    Addressing older peopleā€™s social exclusion is a major challenge for contemporary societies. However, policies designed to address it have tended to focus on poverty and unemployment. This paper explores the relationship between social exclusion and political participation from the perspective of those already holding responsible roles within seniorsā€™ organisations. We aim to highlight the impact of later-life social exclusion in relation to politically active older individuals from two diverse socio-political contexts, Australia and Spain. Participants perceived a range of potential barriers for the inclusion of new members and their own continued involvement. These related to practical and resource issues, beliefs and attitudes towards participation, and organisational and contextual issues. Membersā€™ views of retention of existing members as well as the recruitment of new members highlight the complexity associated with building the diversity and representativeness that organisations need if they are to represent seniorsā€™ views in the policy process

    Combatting social isolation and increasing social participation of older adults through the use of technology: a systematic review of existing evidence

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    Objectives There are growing concerns that social isolation presents risks to older people's health and wellā€being. Thus, the objective of the review was to explore how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation, hence improving social outcomes for older people. Methods A systematic review of the literature was conducted across the social science and humanā€computer interaction databases. Results A total of 36 papers met the inclusion criteria and were analysed using a fourā€step process. Findings were threefold, suggesting that: (i) technologies principally utilised social network services and touchā€screen technologies; (ii) social outcomes are often illā€defined or not defined at all; and (iii) methodologies used to evaluate interventions were often limited and smallā€scale. Conclusion Results suggest a need for studies that examine new and innovative forms of technology, evaluated with rigorous methodologies, and drawing on clear definitions about how these technologies address social isolation/participation
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