Psychosocial needs of a group of older people in a residential facility
Zaaiman, Anna Petronella
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This study, which is part of a research project conducted to explore the experiences of quality of life of older people living in a residential facility, focuses specifically on the psychosocial needs of these residents. Psychosocial needs refer to the innate psychological nutriments that prompt older people to take purposeful, self-directed action in an attempt to satisfy these needs and ultimately foster well-being. These may include needs for mastery, acknowledgement, social interaction and care. In this study the term “older people” refers to individuals aged 60 years and older. The group of older people who participated in this study all live in a residential facility for older people. “Residential facility” refers to premises or a building where older people are provided with accommodation and access to 24-hour care. Previous research concerning the needs of older people focused mainly on their physical care, in the context of deteriorating health. Considering that many older people are leading healthy, vigorous lifestyles, however, it is also important to explore the psychosocial needs of the more functional older people in residential facilities. Psychosocial needs were initially described by Maslow, within a hierarchical system, whereby psychosocial needs emerge only when biological needs have been satisfied. In view of the exceptions described in the literature of older people who overcome the inevitable physical strains that accompany ageing, Maslow’s bottom-up approach is seen as restrictive in its view of older people. In the present study self-determination theory (SDT) has been found to be applicable in exploring psychosocial needs, because of its holistic and adaptive view of people possessing the potential to address their needs within a social environment. SDT views people as motivated to gratify their needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness. A qualitative approach was used to describe the psychosocial needs of the older people studied. The research was conducted in a residential facility for older people in Johannesburg, Gauteng. The older participants comprised 16 residents, including 3 males and 13 females, aged 65 and older. Data-gathering was conducted by using the Mmogo-method®. This required each participant to use a lump of clay, sticks and beads to make something that represents their experiences of life in the residential facility. Prompting questions were asked and each participant was given an opportunity to describe his or her visual presentation. Group discussions allowing for confirmation or revision of perspectives of experiences followed. Data were analysed by means of secondary, thematic and visual analysis. Trustworthiness was ensured by carefully applying specific guidelines which were produced by considering different models aimed at ensuring rigour in qualitative research. These guidelines included clear and coherent writing; conceptual coherence; ensuring a trustworthy procedure through member-checking, multiple perspectives and clarification, as well as the researcher’s attentiveness to her own biases. The research was approved by the ethical committee of North-West University. The researcher applied ethical guidelines as prescribed by the Health Professions Council of South Africa while the research was conducted, and afterwards. Findings revealed four psychosocial needs, namely a need for autonomy, interpersonal interaction within a specific context, a sense of safety, and transcendental needs. The need for autonomy included freedom of personal preference, independent living and active participation. On the interpersonal level, there was a need for general relationships, in which sharing, acknowledgement and caring were present (both instrumental and emotional), as well as close family and friendship relationships. The need for safety covers both physical and organisational safety. On the transcendental level, there is a need for space and opportunities to express and address spiritual needs. These findings may be used to facilitate the development of policies and programmes which aim to address the psychosocial needs of older people in residential facilities as well as in other living arrangements.
- Health Sciences