Thesis_Woodman_Lisa-Jane.pdf (2.26 MB)

The lived experience of the person at home following the admission of their spouse into an aged care facility

Download (2.26 MB)
posted on 2023-03-20, 22:26 authored by Lisa Woodman
Background to the Study With the ageing of the Australian population, the number of older person’s requiring admission to an aged care facility (ACF) for permanent care is increasing. The decision to place a loved one in an aged care facility more often than not falls to the spouse. Little is known about the experiences of spouses about making such a decision and the impact on their lived world after such an event. Aim of the Study The aim of the study was to explore the lived experience of spouses admitting their partner into an aged care facility for permanent care. Methodology Underpinning the Study A phenomenological approach was used to collect data from 10 participants across three moments in time during the first 12 months after admission of their loved one into the ACF. Data Gathering and Data Analysis Analysis of the resultant 27 interviews was conducted using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis framework. Three major themes were explicated from the analysis process that provided insight into the lived world of participants over a 12-month period from the time of admission. The first was Facing immediacy of change to their couplehood which is underpinned by two sub-themes – living with feelings of guilt and relinquishing the anticipated longevity of togetherness. The second theme was Living with the vicissitudes and challenges of ongoing change which was underpinned by four sub-themes – contending with the changes to the everyday, feeling rejected by others, struggling to resist pressures by others to change, and the home as an empty space. The third theme identified was Maintaining valued connections in the face of changing contexts, which was underpinned by three subthemes, Holding on to a sense of connectedness, Seeking acceptance for a new context of couplehood, and Adapting to a reframed future. Outcome of the Study The outcome of the research has been the development of a new model of transition - Transitioning and Maintaining: Hanging onto Connectedness which has alignment with Bridges’ (2001) model of transition. The findings of this study highlight the importance that those remaining in the community after their partner has been admitted into an aged care facility will engage in a period of transition that potentially enables them to readjust in order to achieve the desired outcome. In this context their desired outcome is their continued couplehood and connectedness to each other. It is imperative that aged care facility staff; care/support staff, social workers, liaison officers, counsellors, doctors, and any others providing care are educated on the importance of the relationship of the partner to his or her loved one. Information for people who are admitting their loved ones need to be supported and made aware that the processes they are going through are indeed processes of transition that at times will be unsettling and anxiety provoking as they gradually come to terms with significant life changes all of which are a normal process of adjustment to a new reality The acknowledgment of the need for support groups to be established for couples involved in this process and policies that promote resources for this to happen are essential. There is much more research to be done in this area.



Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Doctor Anthony Welch ; Doctor Jennie Barr

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • Traditional

Usage metrics



    Ref. manager