Resident strategies for making a life in a nursing home: A qualitative study

Gloria L. Brandburg, Lene Symes, Beth Mastel-Smith, Gayle Hersch, Teresa Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Aim: To identify strategies that older adults use to adapt to live in long-term care. Background: The use of long-term care services has risen and this trend is expected to continue as the population reaches old age. Moving into a long-term care setting has been documented internationally as an overwhelming life change for many older adults. It has been observed that residents adjust differently over time, but the basis for these differences needs further exploration. Design: A qualitative design using grounded theory method was employed. Methods: A total of in-depth interviews were conducted in October 2008-February 2009 with a sample of 21 participants. Participants ranged in age from 65-93 years, 81% women and 19% men; mainly Caucasian with one African American and one Hispanic. Length of stay ranged from 3 days to over 9 years living in long-term care so that all stages of adjustment were included in the study. Ground theory method was used to analyse the data. Findings: The results of this study yielded 21 facilitative strategies. The core category identified was personal resiliency, which served as the underpinning for the strategies used by the participants. Strategies were identified in making the decision to move into long-term care and in day-to-day living. Conclusion: Understanding the strategies that facilitate residents to make a successful transition to long-term care life will assist nurses to intervene in ways that are supportive. The strategies identified in this study may be used to develop interventions for residents that are having difficulty living in long-term care. Further exploration of how resiliency has an impact on strategies used by residents is clinically relevant, but further research is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-874
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Gerontology
  • Grounded theory
  • Long-term care
  • Nursing home
  • Psychosocial nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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