Identity in Later Life:
a Cross-setting Study
If you do not have Acrobat
Reader please click on the link below to download software to
read 'pdf' files
Most older people live in intergenerational communities
with a wide range of experience of inclusion or segregation, attachment
or disaffection. The physical conditions and emotional significance
of people's accommodation impact upon their quality of life and
their ability to maintain a sense of identity throughout life.
Yet much of what we know about older people's views on environment
has been developed through studies of those living in accommodation-with-care
where the focus has been on aspects of institutional life. This
research takes a broader look at the issue of environment and
identity by engaging with older people living in a wide range
of settings. It will evaluate commonly used measures of well-being,
comparing them with each other and with what older people themselves
say about their living arrangements. The study is grounded in
theoretical and empirical antecedents which place the experience
of older people themselves at the centre of research and it therefore
builds engagement with older people into the research objectives
and the research methods.
Aims and Objectives
The project aims to advance understandings of the
connections between living environment and the maintenance of
identity in later life, and to provide usable material for the
evaluation of circumstances.
The objectives are:
To review, within a range of settings, existing
measures of quality of life as these relate to the environment.
To compare elements of existing measures
with the experiential categories which older people themselves
indicate as linking environment with identity maintenance
||To focus on the key themes generated
by this comparison to include aspects of privacy, security,
attachment to place, social inclusion, design features, and
the impact of transitions.
This study is intended to permit comparison between
different types of environments rather than to reflect the actual
distribution of older people within domestic and institutional
settings. Both types are included to diversify the range of domesticity,
design and organisation of space, levels of care provision, and
size (the number of residential units on site or grouped together).
They include not-for-profit and for-profit developments. The study
is located in three sites: a London Borough, a Midlands town,
and a semi-rural location.
Older people will take part both as individuals
and in groups.
Focus groups of people from several of the
setting types will meet periodically throughout the research.
They will consider aspects of the quality of life in settings
with which they are familiar and discuss on-going research
||In individual studies of environment
and well-being, respondents will be drawn from across the
settings to take part in-depth fieldwork eliciting individual
respondents' views on their own living environment and sense
of well-being. Quality of life measures will be used and respondents
will also be asked to comment on the measures. Further data
from individual studies will include biographical contexts
and details of the environment, along with detailed observational
notes and photographs.
||A small number (c.10) of respondents
will contribute video footage of their reflections on aspects
of life in specific locations.
There will be at least two essential outputs of
An enhanced understanding of the relationship
between living environments, the maintenance of identity,
and well-being in later life.
||An improved and validated system
of measuring quality of life in different residential settings.
These outputs will be of use to older people and
their families, to care managers, hospital social workers and
those involved in continuing care, sheltered housing managers,
registration and inspection officers, members of primary care
groups and professionals involved in the housing market. They
will also be of interest to policy makers and advisors and members
of the academic community.