Case Studies / Activities


The chapter focused on life space work with young people in care settings. In this exercise we would like you to think about the experience of older people, another service-user group who may live in a group care environment. In 2009 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published a report by Bowers et al. entitled ‘Older People’s Vision for Long Term Care’. The report (and a brief summary) can be accessed at the following link:

We would like you to read the report and then consider the following:

  1. How does what you have learnt about life space working apply to older people living in care environments?
  2. The chapter described the life space approach as ‘a therapeutic intervention in people’s lives that acknowledges prior loss, builds on individual strengths with the goal of restoring ego integrity and prepares the individual to go forward in life better equipped for future adversity. Central to all change is the therapeutic relationship.’ From your own experiences and from what you have read about older people’s experiences of residential care, how much do you think the life space approach underpins practice? How much do you think it should underpin practice?
  3. What connections can you make between the ‘Keys to a good life’, as detailed by Bowers et al. (2009), and the ways in which you might approach work with older people in a care setting?
  4. Which of the following four factors do you think has the strongest influence on the therapeutic relationship between older people and staff in care environments? Do all factors have some role to play?
    1. Factors associated with the physical environment, e.g. the layout of the building; what the building looks like form the outside; how the home blends with its neighbouring buildings and so on.
    2. Factors associated with the organisational environment, e.g. how the home is run; whether it has a clear philosophy underpinning care; how the priorities of the day are defined; staffing levels and so on.
    3. Factors associated with the therapeutic environment, e.g. the way in which staff assist residents to live fulfilled lives and reach their potential; whether key workers are encouraged to spend quality time with residents; whether residents are enabled to express their feelings – happiness, fears, anxieties – and so on.
    4. Factors associated with the community environment, e.g. whether the home is integrated or isolated from its local community; what relationships with neighbours are like; if visitors welcomed; if residents make use of community facilities, and so on.