Published: 06-11-2018 10:02 | Updated: 27-11-2018 08:59

New thesis: Influence in everyday activities important for older adults living in nursing and care homes

Margarita Mondaca

Hi Margarita Mondaca Arriagada, PhD-student at the Division of Occupational Therapy. On 30 November you will defend your thesis "It’s my party - Opportunities for older adults to influence everyday activities in a nursing home setting", what´s the main focus of the thesis?

My thesis focus on the opportunities that nursing home residents have to influence their everyday activities. Participation, person-centred care and empowerment are the main current policies and approaches applied in this field, however there is limited knowledge about how these policies are in play in everyday practices in nursing home settings. This is important knowledge because the institutional character of nursing homes can hinder nursing home residents’ opportunities to do what they like to do.

Which are the most important results?

There are four main findings that are highlighted in my thesis. The first one is that nursing home residents have limited opportunities to shape their everyday activities, according to their own preferences and values. This due to the highly-routinized character of the nursing home.

The second main finding is that if nursing home residents are given the opportunity to have a say, they can contribute with their expertise to shape everyday activities. Nursing home residents that collaborate in the design of everyday activities, could regain qualities of the everyday such as joy, fellowship and familiarity, while doing what they wanted to do at the nursing home.

The third finding is that nursing home staff struggles to modify the institutional character of the nursing home in their own ways. These struggles sometimes are deviating the norms, but have the purpose to give space to practices that reflects the home residents’ preferences and values.

The fourth main finding is the identification of several discourses at play at the nursing home. These discourses are sometimes contradictory with policy ambitions for example result in assigning passive roles to the nursing home residents.

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

Everyday activities for nursing home residents is an important aspect to maintain identity, continuity and a sense of familiarity with their immediate context. This is important considering that nursing home residents live with several chronic conditions including cognitive decline. Everyday activities based on collaboration with nursing home residents can greatly contribute to maintain identity, continuity and a sense of familiarity which are important aspects of health and well-being.

What´s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?

I will continue working as a teacher in the Division of Occupational Therapy and I will also continue to do research about how collaboration between nursing home residents and staff can be improved. Based on the findings in my thesis a project called “Everyday Buddies” will be developed and tried out in real life. Additionally, the project will explore how the nursing home can be a more permeable place towards the community.