Communities within communities - an ecosystem to support ageing-in-place

  • Jasmine Peak

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    People in the UK are living longer. An ageing population, changes in health status and increasing life expectancies have led to the rise in demand for Adult Social Care (ASC) in the UK. To meet this rising demand, one focus for long-term care (LTC) providers has been to create LTC schemes for older people that have a community focus. Although there has been an increased emphasis on creating communities within LTC schemes in the NHS policy agenda and there are potential health and financial benefits of creating communities, there has been limited research on how to 'create' communities in these settings.

    This research, therefore, aimed to investigate the development of communities within LTC settings for older people. Mixed-methods research was undertaken in collaboration with two innovative LTC facilities in the West Midlands; one that aimed to create a community within the home and another that sought to create a community together with the wider community. The community capitals framework guided the research. This framework was used to identify potential communities within the LTC settings and evaluate the resources available that helped these communities to grow and those that formed barriers. The research methods employed included key informant semi-structured interviews with care staff and management; built environment utilisation surveys of the communal spaces; and focus groups, interviews and social network mapping exercises with residents in the LTC schemes.

    There were four principal findings from this research. The first finding is that there were three types of community identified in each setting. They were place-based, interest-based and an overall LTC community. All three types of community formed part of the LTC community ecosystem. The next finding from this research is that most of the identified communities could be classified according to their leadership structure. Both residents and staff were identified as the common leaders for the LTC communities. Finding three highlights how each community required different capital assets to develop – combining different assets led to different community structures. The final finding from this research is that the reciprocal relationships between community members helped to create and maintain the LTC communities.

    While the LTC environments fostered the growth of different communities and a community ecosystem, this research has demonstrated that creating communities was a complex process. People were at the heart of the communities, so should be the focus of any efforts used to create communities. This research contributes to knowledge, providing an insight into the process of creating communities in two different LTC settings for older people.
    Date of AwardJun 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorHazel Barrett (Supervisor), Ala Szczepura (Supervisor) & John Halloran (Supervisor)

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