Transitioning into residential aged care

Moving into residential aged care can be very challenging and it is important to recognise and acknowledge the multiple changes the resident and their family/ carer are experiencing. Often the resident will have experienced a significant decline in their physical health with associated loss of independence. The move to communal living and a change to every day routines can be very confronting1. Similarly the loss or dispersal of significant objects and belongings, change in the person’s sense of control and loss of place can result in relocation distress syndrome2.


However, it has been found that the older person’s resilience influences their ability to employ effective strategies to assist in adjusting to residential aged care3.  Resilience is a psychological construct referring to the capacity to positively adapt despite experiences that are traumatic, stressful or negative4. Thus gaining an awareness of the persons past life experiences can be helpful in understanding the resident’s response and supporting their entry into residential aged care.


A number of strategies have been found to support people in their adjustment and transition to residential aged care, including:

It is important to remember that our behaviour and attitude towards older people can have a positive or negative impact on their sense of dignity, self-worth and place in society13. Understanding how best to use the above strategies will help you have a positive impact if/when working in aged care.






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  10. Phillipe F, Vallerand R. Actual environments do affect motivation and psychological adjustment: A test of self-determination theory in a natural setting. Motivation and Emotion. 2008; 32(2):81-89.
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