An ethnography study exploring factors that influence social isolation in care home residents living with dementia and hearing loss


BACKGROUND: Hearing loss and dementia are highly prevalent conditions amongst older adults living in residential care. The consequences of living with these conditions may include social withdrawal and reduced communication opportunities. We sought to examine patterns of communication and interaction in residential care and explore resident, staff, and relative perspectives within two care homes located in Birmingham, UK. This enabled an understanding of how communication environments contributed to social isolation. METHODS: This work used ethnography methodology to explore mechanisms that created and maintained social isolation in older adults living with dementia and hearing loss. A planning and engagement phase took place in four care homes. This was followed by an environmental audit, observations, and interviews. Data generated were analysed using Grounded Theory methods. RESULTS: There were 33 participants (16 residents, 11 care staff, and six relatives) who took part in the observations and interviews. Residents experienced social isolation through lack of meaningful conversation with others and being misunderstood. Additionally, observations of residents' interactions informed the overall findings. A Grounded Theory model was employed to explain the core phenomenon of social isolation. The main contributors were internal and external barriers to communication, and reduced opportunities for meaningful conversation. CONCLUSIONS: There is a wide range of social isolation that care home residents experience. This was not always associated with the severity of hearing loss but rather communication ability. Simple interventions such as staff dining with residents and focussing on improving communication could reduce social isolation within residential care settings.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Audiology
College of Health & Life Sciences
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Aged,Anthropology, Cultural,Communication,Dementia/diagnosis,Hearing Loss/diagnosis,Humans,Social Isolation,Ethnography,Hearing,Social isolation,Dementia,Geriatrics and Gerontology
Publication ISSN: 1471-2318
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 07:28
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2023 12:25
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Related URLs: https://bmcgeri ... 877-023-04296-0 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-09-25
Accepted Date: 2023-09-08
Authors: Dhanda, Nisha
Pryce, Helen (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5183-6236)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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