PhD Spotlight #4: “Adding Life to Years” – The development of a quality of life and well-being measurement tool for older adults without dementia living in care homes.

Georgina Hughes

COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS – Psychology

Britain’s population is ageing. Whilst living longer is of course a good thing, it comes at a cost. Ageing is associated with increased ill-health which leads to additional demands on health services. Inevitably, there is a need for these costs and pressures to be reduced.

Since poorer quality of life and well-being are associated with a higher risk of disease and disability, boosting these factors would not only improve the lives of our elderly, but simultaneously reduce their costs on society.

Older adults living in care homes are an obvious staring point, since research found these individuals have a reduced quality of life compared to those still living in the community. However, capturing quality of life and well-being views of care home residents is problematic when there are no instruments available to measure these outcomes. Questionnaires have been designed for those living in the community, or for those with dementia, but not for care home residents without dementia. My research aims to fill this void.

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After systematically reviewing the literature, I have produced 101 potential questions representing areas of quality of life and well-being. Many questions specifically relate to areas of care home living, such as staff factors, communicating with and helping out other residents, or the design of the care home itself. These areas are all missing from the instruments currently available, and so highlight the need for this measure.

These questions are now being piloted with care home residents to produce a preliminary instrument, in the format of a questionnaire, which will ultimately be tested for its validity and reliability.

My research will allow for more accurate measurement of interventions designed to improve quality of life and well-being for care home residents and thus, will help researchers make lives better for our elders.

If you would like to submit an entry to the series, please email s.cameron@bathspa.ac.uk

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