Older people's experiences of community engagement in aged care: A qualitative study

Helen Rawson, Kerry Rigby, Cherene Ockerby, Helen Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Engagement and social connection are key elements of a meaningful life however the current aged care system does not universally foster community connectedness. Limited research has explored community engagement from the perspective of older people in aged care. Aim: To explore older people's perceptions of community engagement in aged care. Methods: A qualitative exploratory descriptive approach involving individual interviews and focus groups Setting: A large not-for-profit aged care provider in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia. Participants: Twenty-eight older adults living in residential aged care (n = 23) and independent living units (n = 5). Findings: Four themes were identified: (i) a new home; (ii) opportunities to engage in aged care; (iii) connecting with the wider community, and; (iv) social connection to community. Discussion: Participants perceived community as being characterised by the notion of home, that is, the place where they lived. Being socially connected to a community was important and benefits included being with people to avoid being alone, reconnecting with the wider community and having positive social connections. Opportunities for engagement were either created for, or by them. In residential aged care, staff facilitated engagement opportunities using a one-size-fits-all approach. This approach was deemed to be unsuitable. People from independent living units, although not completely removed from the wider community, desired to maintain their independence and be part of the wider community. Conclusions: Understanding older people's perceptions of community engagement in aged care can support development of appropriate, applicable and meaningful strategies to promote engagement and socialisation within aged care and the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-836
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Community engagement
  • Homes for the aged
  • Long-term care
  • Qualitative research
  • Socialisation

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