Title

A pilot study exploring outdoor occupational engagement of residents in an aged care facility

Location

Hiawatha 3

Start Time

17-10-2014 11:40 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 12:10 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

As the population ages, it is anticipated there will be increasing numbers of people in Western societies living in aged care facilities. Therefore research on optimal environments and programs within aged care facilities is essential to ensure residents’ health and well-being. There is increasing evidence that outdoor participation is necessary for residents’ physical and mental health (Nilsson, Lundgren, & Liliequist, 2012), yet little research on how to promote adequate outdoor participation has been undertaken.

This presentation describes an ongoing pilot study being conducted by a multidisciplinary team. The setting is Canberra, Australia, in an aged care facility for self-care residents, residents with low and high care needs, including residents with cognitive impairment. The pilot is designed to inform a proposed large multi-centred international study. The aims of the pilot are to (i) trial tools for measuring the level of residents’ outdoor occupational engagement (ii) explore residents’ experiences of outdoor participation and (iii) identify enablers of and barriers to outdoor participation.

A diverse mix of tools, including interviews, questionnaires, occupational mapping, observation, accelerometers and radio frequency identification tags, are being used to collect data. Study participants include staff, residents’ and family of residents, all of whom will provide different viewpoints. Approval to include residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment as participants was sought from the ethics committee and was granted, ensuring their needs for and concerns about outdoor participation are heard. The inclusion of participants with cognitive impairments in research that is relevant to them, is strongly supported (Monroe et al., 2012; Whitehouse, 2008; Wilkinson, 2002). The multidisciplinary international research team includes occupational therapists, occupational scientists, a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, psychologist and epidemiologist. The findings in this presentation will focus on what facilitates and limits residents’ outdoor participation from the perspectives of staff, residents and residents’ family.

There are several reasons this small study has important implications for occupational science. The involvement of occupational scientists in multidisciplinary international teams will help promote mainstreaming of occupational science. Moreover, connecting occupational scientists with other disciplines will highlight the value of an occupational lens in addressing global population and social issues. Finally, the study’s findings on the relationship between the outdoors and occupational engagement of older people in aged care facilities will demonstrate the potential contribution of occupational science to landscape design and the built environment, two areas in which there has been little involvement to date by occupational scientists.

Key words: Outdoor environment, occupational engagement, older people

References

Munroe, T., Herr, K., Mion, L., & Cowan, R. (2012).Ethical and legal issues in pain research in cognitively impaired older adults. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50, 1283-1287.

Nilsson, I., Lundgren, A-S. & Liliequist, M. (2012). Occupational well-being among the very old. Journal of Occupational Science, 19(2), 115-126.

Whitehouse, P. & George, D. (2008). The myth of Alzheimer's. New York: St Martins Press.

Wilkinson, H. (2002). The perspectives of people with dementia. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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Oct 17th, 11:40 AM Oct 17th, 12:10 PM

A pilot study exploring outdoor occupational engagement of residents in an aged care facility

Hiawatha 3

As the population ages, it is anticipated there will be increasing numbers of people in Western societies living in aged care facilities. Therefore research on optimal environments and programs within aged care facilities is essential to ensure residents’ health and well-being. There is increasing evidence that outdoor participation is necessary for residents’ physical and mental health (Nilsson, Lundgren, & Liliequist, 2012), yet little research on how to promote adequate outdoor participation has been undertaken.

This presentation describes an ongoing pilot study being conducted by a multidisciplinary team. The setting is Canberra, Australia, in an aged care facility for self-care residents, residents with low and high care needs, including residents with cognitive impairment. The pilot is designed to inform a proposed large multi-centred international study. The aims of the pilot are to (i) trial tools for measuring the level of residents’ outdoor occupational engagement (ii) explore residents’ experiences of outdoor participation and (iii) identify enablers of and barriers to outdoor participation.

A diverse mix of tools, including interviews, questionnaires, occupational mapping, observation, accelerometers and radio frequency identification tags, are being used to collect data. Study participants include staff, residents’ and family of residents, all of whom will provide different viewpoints. Approval to include residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment as participants was sought from the ethics committee and was granted, ensuring their needs for and concerns about outdoor participation are heard. The inclusion of participants with cognitive impairments in research that is relevant to them, is strongly supported (Monroe et al., 2012; Whitehouse, 2008; Wilkinson, 2002). The multidisciplinary international research team includes occupational therapists, occupational scientists, a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, psychologist and epidemiologist. The findings in this presentation will focus on what facilitates and limits residents’ outdoor participation from the perspectives of staff, residents and residents’ family.

There are several reasons this small study has important implications for occupational science. The involvement of occupational scientists in multidisciplinary international teams will help promote mainstreaming of occupational science. Moreover, connecting occupational scientists with other disciplines will highlight the value of an occupational lens in addressing global population and social issues. Finally, the study’s findings on the relationship between the outdoors and occupational engagement of older people in aged care facilities will demonstrate the potential contribution of occupational science to landscape design and the built environment, two areas in which there has been little involvement to date by occupational scientists.

Key words: Outdoor environment, occupational engagement, older people