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‘I shall miss the company’: participants’ reflections on time-limited day centre programming

Hagan, Robert J and Manktelow, Roger (2020) ‘I shall miss the company’: participants’ reflections on time-limited day centre programming. Ageing and Society. pp. 1-20. ISSN 0144-686X


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The social needs of frail or isolated older people are sometimes aided by referrals to day centres in the United Kingdom. Since the late 1940s, day centres have had a role to play promoting socialisation in later life. Additionally, attendance at day centres is often open ended, with participants only leaving due to moving to a nursing home or dying. In this study, the views of those attending time-limited day centre programmes in seven day centres in Northern Ireland have been sought in relation to their thoughts about the service as well as how they feel when it ends. Seventeen participants completed diaries for the programme duration and/or engaged in an interview process. Participants reflected on the social and educational benefits of attending but also recognised impositions in the centres that impinged upon individual choices and also the length of time they could remain. This study reveals that, in order to maintain socialisation, time-limited programmes must have clear follow-on strategies for participants. Additionally, respondents’ experiences reflect that a paternalistic model of care delivery remains in place that, whilst restrictive, reveals that access to the service is more specialised and not universal. Nevertheless, should day centres wish to remain relevant, it is important that service users are fully consulted about their desires and choices within the setting.

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