'Being-in-the-world-of-care' : the lived experiences of older people receiving community aged care packages in Queensland

Doyle, Susanna Jane (2010) 'Being-in-the-world-of-care' : the lived experiences of older people receiving community aged care packages in Queensland. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


It has been recognised in current literature that, in general, Australia’s population is ageing and that older people are increasingly choosing to continue to live in the community in their own homes for as long as possible. Such factors of social change are expected to lead to larger numbers of older people requiring community care services for longer periods. Despite this, there is little information available in the literature on the perceptions and experiences of older people regarding community-based care and support.

This study explores the lived experience of a small group of older people living in South East Queensland who were receiving a level of care consistent with the Community Aged Care Package (CACP). It also sought to examine the impact and meaning of that care on the older person’s overall lifestyle, autonomy, and personal satisfaction. In-depth interviews were undertaken with these older people, and were analysed using Heidegger’s interpretive hermeneutical phenomenological approach. Shared narratives were then explored using Ricoeur’s narrative analysis framework. In order to sensitise the researcher to the unconscious or symbolic aspects of the care experience, Wolfensberger’s social role valorization theory (SRV) was also utilised during a third phase of analysis. Methodological rigour was strengthened within this study through the use of reflexivity and an in-depth member check discussion that was conducted with each participant.

The interviews revealed there were significant differences in expectations, understanding, and perceptions between older people and their carers or service providers. The older person perceived care primarily in relational terms, and clearly preferred active participation in their care and a consistent relationship with a primary carer. Older people also sought to maintain their sense of autonomy, lifestyle, home environment, routines, and relationships, as closely as possible to those that existed prior to their requiring assistance. However, these expectations were not always supported by the care model.

On the whole, service providers did not always understand what older people perceived was important within the care context. Carers seldom looked beyond the provision of assistance with specific daily tasks to consider the real impact of care on the older person. The study identified that older people reported a range of experiences when receiving care in their own homes. While some developed healthy and supportive connections with their carers, others experienced ageism, abuse, and exploitation. Unsatisfactory interactions at times resulted in a loss, to varying degrees, of their independence, their possessions, and their connectedness with others.

There is therefore a need for service providers to pay more attention to the perceptions and self-perceived needs of older people, to avoid unintended or unnecessary negative impacts occurring within care provision. The study provides valuable information regarding the older person’s experience that will assist in supporting the further development and improvement of this model of care. It is proposed that these insights will enable CACPs to cater more closely to the actual needs and preferences of older people, and to avoid causing preventable harm to care recipients.

Impact and interest:

5 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 44155
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: aged care, ageing, ageism, community aged care, consumer engagement, interpretive hermeneutic phenomenology, member checking, older people, participation, phenomenology, reflexivity
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Aug 2011 05:53
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:43

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