The social support networks of residents of a care & attention home for the elderly in coping with institutionalisation

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The social support networks of residents of a care & attention home for the elderly in coping with institutionalisation

 

Author: Ho, Kit-fan Amy
Title: The social support networks of residents of a care & attention home for the elderly in coping with institutionalisation
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1996
Subject: Old age homes -- China -- Hong Kong
Older people -- Social networks
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Pages: viii, 138 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1397810
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/945
Abstract: This dissertation is an attempt to study the social support networks of the residents of a care-and-attention home for the elderly in coping with institutionalisation. The research method of "grounded theory" was adopted with the aim of generating a theory to gain insights on how the residents' social support networks had helped in developing strategies to cope with institutionalisation. A total of ten residents of a care-and-attention home was interviewed. It was found that the residents were not so lonely in that they all had some forms of social support networks including spousal support, intergenerational support, kin support, peer support, neighbourhood support and formal support. Among them, spousal support was found to be the least supportive whereas support from their children, grandchildren and kins still persisted after admission into care-and-attention home in form of modified extended kinship system. Although their social support networks were relatively tiny in size, they were supportive enough in meeting the essential and basic needs of the residents. A priority of support seeking was also identified. The residents would first turn to their immediate family members such as their children and grandchildren for assistance, then followed by their kins if the residents had no children or grandchildren. However, kins only provided support on matters of substantial importance and on significant decisions. When the residents needed day-to-day and immediate support, they would turn to their peers, neighbours or other forms of informal social support networks for assistance. Finally, if the residents found the support provided by the informal social support networks were still inadequate, they would turn to formal social support networks in obtaining the necessary social services needed. A "Tension Theory" of the push and pull of social support networks on institutionalisation was generated from my study to explain the reasons for admission of the residents into the care-and-attention home. On one hand, the push factors had pushed resident towards institutionalisation. These push factors include societal changes on kinship systems and attitude of the elderly towards institutionalisaton; emigration tide brought by political changes; feeling of loneliness caused by the lack of social companions; and helplessness caused by the lack of adequate caring from social support networks. On the other hand, the pull factors of continuous social support the residents' social support networks and the residents' ability to maintain active social life had pulled them away from institutionalisation. Besides, good health condition would be a catalyst to pull away residents from institutionalisation while poor health condition would be a catalyst to push residents towards institutionalisation. The push and pull factors had also generated a tension on the ways in which the residents coped with institutionalisation. Four strategies of maladjustment, stabilisation, disengagement and integration were identified to cope with the tension of push and pull factors on institutionalisation. When the pull factors were strong enough to counterbalance the push factors, the residents would be maladjusted. On the contrary, the residents could stabilise and integrate with institutionalisation if push factors were strong enough to suppress the pull factors. Besides, a resident would become disengaged if the push factors had totally defeated the pull factors. In my study, institutionalisation was found to be inevitable for most of the residents because of the force of the push factors, it should be better for the residents to live a stable and integrated institutional life than to be maladjusted and disengaged. Thus, appropriate strategies should be developed to help the residents to cope with institutionalisation. Social work interventions on strengthening the social support networks of the residents; empowering the residents' potential for mastery; enhancing mutual support among residents; promoting a positive and professional image on institutionalisation; advocating a policy of "Total Care" as well as encouraging further research on residential service were proposed in order to facilitate an optimum institutional living for the residents.

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