“We Had a Beautiful Home . . . But I Think I’m Happier Here”: A Good or Better Life in Residential Aged Care

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Purpose of the Study:

This qualitative study investigates residents’ perspectives on whether a “good life” is possible for older people living in residential aged care (RAC) and offers insight into the services and support needed to sustain their good life.

Design and Methods:

Thirteen aged care residents (2 male, 11 female) ranging in age from 77 to 95 years, participated in semi-structured interviews in 2 RAC facilities in Adelaide, South Australia. Both facilities employed a model of aged care based on active aging and positive psychology principles called the partners in positive aging (PiPA) model.


Interpretative phenomenological analysis showed that residents’ perception of a good life was centred on the service providers’ ability to enhance their physical, social, and psychological well-being while allowing them to maintain their sense of identity. Counter-stereotypically, findings suggest that the aged care environment can provide older people who are physically frail but cognitively intact with a better life than when they were living in their own homes.


Psychological good life theory needs to be adapted and modified when considering the needs of cognitively intact older adults in residential care.

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