Exploring the Function and Use of Common Spaces in Assisted Living for Older Persons
Journal article, 2014
OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study examines the function and use of common spaces in assisted living facilities (ALFs) from the residential and workplace perspectives.
BACKGROUND: The impact of the physical environment on human activities in healthcare settings has been emphasized in many studies. Few studies, however, have explored the daily use of common spaces and the
impact on the usability of ALFs.
METHODS: Four explorative methods–observation, group interviews, individual interviews, and questionnaires—were used to investigate 14 ALFs in Sweden. The study involves residents, staff, relatives, architects, and people responsible for planning and construction of eldercare.
This research strategy combines quantitative and qualitative methods to enhance the validity of the results. Method triangulation and data triangulation
were used and the data were analyzed using Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA).
RESULTS: The results show that residents and staff have different objectives for use and these differences affect usability, although explicit conflicts are rare. The residents, staff, and other stakeholders have different
views about the demarcation of home and workplace and the role of common spaces as venues for social interaction.
CONCLUSIONS: Both the residential and the workplace perspective must be considered when planning assisted living facilities. Otherwise, inherent conflicts between these perspectives will manifest as a result of the
physical design. Common spaces have diverse functions that are reflected in their spatial organization. Therefore, ALFs should be designed so the intended function of a specific space is apparent to all users.