Background: The publics’ perceptions of aged care residential facilities (ACRF’s) are generally derogatory in nature; with terms such as the ‘end of the road’ or ‘the last resort’ being used to describe them. The institutional design and nature of the traditional ‘nursing home’ has contributed to such a perception. However, more contemporary models of residential aged care facilities are encompassing design features which aim to enhance the physical and social environment and therefore the lives of the older people residing within them.

Purpose: This research reports on the inclusion of a café in the foyer of an aged care residential which is open to the public. Members of the public who use the café were interviewed.

Methods: This research project utilised qualitative inquiry of a descriptive nature. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews; seven participants were interviewed. Data analysis to establish themes utilised coding.

Findings: The perceptions of members of the public who use the café is presented according to three major themes; place and purpose, people and relationships and community exposure and perceptions. The café is perceived, by the participants of this research project, as a place to go in the local community which was appreciated for its familiarity, pleasant surroundings and the quality of its service. Interactions between staff and residents were observed as caring and participants reflected that the staff were personally invested in their work. Visiting this café has challenged the notion that ACRF’s are closed off institutional places and the environment was described as open and inviting. The interaction between the community and the ACRF was discussed the benefits for the residents and for themselves were identified. Participants described a developing affiliation and connection between the facility and themselves and this prompted reflection about their own future residential needs.

Conclusion: This café has opened a door between the ACRF and the local community. Members of the public who visit the café are able to observe, interact and make connections within the residential care environment. Perceptions about the nature of aged care facilities have been challenged and reflection about future residential care needs has occurred.

Author Bio(s)

Alexa M. Andrew, MOccTher, is a senior occupational therapy lecturer at Te Ohu Ora College, Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand.




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