Residents’ Experiences of Moving from Home into a Care Home
: A Grounded Theory Study

  • Marie O'Neill

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Globally, along with population ageing, there is an increasing trend for older people with complex care needs to reside in care homes. It is recognised that moving into a care home can be a complex and emotional experience for the individual and their families. Despite this, there is a paucity of research that takes into consideration individuals’ experiences of the first year of life in a care home.
The study: A grounded theory methodology was employed to undertake semiinterviews with participants (n=23) who were moving from home to a care home over the course of a year. The interviews were carried out at four key time points: 1) premove (7 days) or post-move (within 3 days); 2) at four and six weeks; 3) at 4-5 months; and 4) at 9-12 months post move.
Findings: Three core categories were identified at key timepoints of the move: ‘You’re at their Mercy’ when participants perceived a sense of disempowerment throughout the admission process; ‘Waiting and Wanting’ when in the early weeks
post move participants were disillusioned by a loss of independence, autonomy and continuity of former roles; and ‘The Primacy of ‘Home’ when at the latter end of the year post move, participants placed substantial meaning on preserving their identity and finding connections both within the care home and with ‘family and home’. The story line for the first year of the transition to a care home was captured in an overarching category ‘The centrality of connection in supporting older people on their journey from life at home to life in care home’. The theory that emerged suggests that care home residents who are connected, as evidenced by their participation in decision making about the move and the extent to which they can maintain existing connections to home and family while at the same time, creating new connections within the care home environment, have a more successful transition to life in a care home than individuals who do not have this connectedness.
Conclusion: This study increases understanding about how older people make a positive adaptation to living in a care home. It was recognised that facilitating individual preferences and expectations from the outset can empower people to
progress towards acceptance of the move. Health care professionals have a key role to play in collaborating with older people around decision-making, planning and moving to a care home.
Date of AwardNov 2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsThe Martha McMenamin Memorial Scholarship
SupervisorAnne Tracey (Supervisor), Liz Laird (Supervisor) & Assumpta Ryan (Supervisor)


  • Older People
  • Adaptation
  • Quality of life
  • Care Home
  • Transitions
  • Grounded Theory

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