Following the trend in most developed countries, in Austria the oldest old are the fastest growing population group. Among this group, there is a high prevalence of multimorbidity, functional impairment, dementia, and psychiatric conditions. While health promotion (HP) has been considered relevant in coping with the challenges of an aging population, it has so far been viewed as a foreign concept in relation to the oldest old, especially those living in residential aged care (RAC) facilities. Although there is an acknowledgement that HP should be integrated into routine nursing, there has been little research on how professionals working in RAC interpret and implement HP. In this study, thirteen semi-structured interviews were carried out with professionals from four major Austrian RAC providers. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings show that, typically, professionals understand HP as a concept that is oriented towards maintaining potentials and resources, thereby promoting self-determination, autonomy, and social integration, including frail and functionally impaired elderly residents. However, data analysis also revealed a gap between the conceptual understanding and positive attitudes towards HP and its implementation in practice. Implementation of HP seems to occur in isolated cases, related to specific health issues. It seems that more complex HP approaches, especially the ‘settings approach’, are hardly practiced. To implement more comprehensive and systematic HP in Austrian RAC, support from external HP agencies as well as changes in financial incentives are needed.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Health Promotion International following peer review. The version of record Benjamin Marent, Christina C. Wieczorek and Karl Krajic.Professionals’ perspectives towards health promotion in residential aged care: an explorative study in Austria, published online in Health Promotion International, September 29 2016 is available online at: 10.1093/heapro/daw075.
- health promotion
- old age
- residential care
- concepts of health promotion