Involve future residents at an early stage to improve outcomes

Resentment, regret and trauma can result if an older person is moved to residential care without being involved in the decision.

Improving the way relatives are supported to discuss housing options with their family before a health crisis may help reduce the trauma of a move, and ensure they can participate in the decision making process. Information provided by Age UK  and the Alzheimers Society may facilitate this, say researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Cambridge.

In the study of 20 people who moved to residential care after the age of 95, researchers found that the move to residential care is often less traumatic, and results in better outcomes, if the older person can be involved before health problems force them to. Urgency due to a health crisis or cognitive decline can mean that the older person is rarely involved in decisions about moving. The oldest interviewee was aged 101.

Dr Morag Farquhar, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said: “In some cases the decision to move an elderly person is made by others who may override the older person’s views and preferences – or even without their full consent.

“While some older people were philosophical about their move and considered it a part of the aging process, many thought a decision had been made for them, some felt resentment, and later regretted their move.”

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