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Gerontologist. 2011 Apr;51(2):212-25. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnq099. Epub 2010 Dec 16.

Culture change in long-term care: participatory action research and the role of the resident.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Hiram College, Hiram, OH 44234, USA. robinshura@gmail.com



This study's purpose was to advance the process of culture change within long-term care (LTC) and assisted living settings by using participatory action research (PAR) to promote residents' competence and nourish the culture change process with the active engagement and leadership of residents.


Seven unit-specific PAR groups, each consisting of 4-7 residents, 1-2 family members, and 1-3 staff, met 1 hour per week for 4 months in their nursing home or assisted living units to identify areas in need of improvement and to generate ideas for community change. PAR groups included residents with varied levels of physical and cognitive challenges. Residents were defined as visionaries with expertise based on their 24/7 experience in the facility and prior life experiences.


All PAR groups generated novel ideas for creative improvements and reforms in their communities and showed initiative to implement their ideas. Challenges to the process included staff participation and sustainability.


PAR is a viable method to stimulate creative resident-led reform ideas and initiatives in LTC. Residents' expertise has been overlooked within prominent culture change efforts that have developed and facilitated changes from outside-in and top-down. PAR may be incorporated productively within myriad reform efforts to engage residents' competence. PAR has indirect positive quality of life benefits as a forum of meaningful social engagement and age integration that may transform routinized and often ageist modes of relationships within LTC.

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