Nursing home residents' narratives of their interpersonal relationships
Kang, B., Mcconnell, E., Scales, K., Song, Y., Lepore, M., & Corazzini, K. (2017). Nursing home residents' narratives of their interpersonal relationships. Innovation in Aging, 1(suppl_1), 252-253. DOI: 10.1093/geroni/igx004.929
The cultivation of interpersonal relationships is central to promoting quality of life in nursing homes (NHs), as it is through these relationships that residents, family members and staff come to be valued as unique persons and are empowered as partners in care (Owen & Meyer, 2012). Beyond the care provider-recipient relationship, little research has considered the broader network of relationships experienced by residents. This study aims to explore residents’ perspectives regarding the meaning of their relationships with co-residents, families, and staff in NHs. We analyzed individual and group interviews with residents (N=12 sessions; N=12 participants) from two NHs in North Carolina, which were conducted as part of a larger study on person-directed care planning. Informed by narrative inquiry (Jovchelovitch & Bauer, 2000), the analysis explored various interpersonal relationships and their context through each resident’s narration, using a two-cycle coding approach (Saldaña, 2012). Three consistent themes emerged: (i) residents perceived interpersonal relationships as supporting their needs, including the need to feel connected, respected, and supported; (ii) when residents’ needs were met through relationships, it led to positive outcomes perceived by residents, such as feeling significant and capable; and (iii) when residents’ needs were not attained in particular relationships, it led to negative outcomes including feelings of being neglected, isolated, and helpless. The importance of the findings about interpersonal relationships is discussed in relation to appreciative inquiry (Cooperrider et al., 2003), a strengths-focused approach for helping NH residents, families, and staff co-create personally meaningful living and working environments.