Women With Disabilities' Experiences in Long-Term Care: A Case for Social Justice

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The purpose of this study was to explore women with disabilities' perceptions of their lived experiences in nursing homes.


This 16-month ethnography used multiple qualitative methods, including participant observations, thematic qualitative interviews, and focus groups, to examine the perceptions of life in nursing home for 6 women with disabilities who had returned to community living and their significant others (n = 13).


Nursing homes were living situations of last resort for women with disabilities. Life in the nursing home was characterized by lost choice, control, and occupational engagement; social isolation; social control; the political economy of the nursing home; and active resistance.


Occupational therapy practitioners practicing from a social justice paradigm have a responsibility to ensure that client goals to live in the least restrictive environments possible are realized. Implications for long-term-care referral practices, advocacy-based interventions, and partnership with the disability community are discussed.

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