Exploring the challenges and facilitators to older men’s social participation: therapeutic landscapes, intergenerational offerings and connected communities

Cowen, Kate (2022) Exploring the challenges and facilitators to older men’s social participation: therapeutic landscapes, intergenerational offerings and connected communities. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Social isolation and loneliness (SIL) among older men has created a public health challenge. Group interventions delivered by community organisations which draw upon activity theories may be the most effective in reducing SIL. However, most group participants are women which necessitates understanding male perspectives and preferences for social participation. Therefore the aim of this project was to explore the challenges and facilitators to older men’s social participation.

Interpretivism, with the lens of constructionism, is the paradigm informing this qualitative, multi method study. Interviews with twelve older men, and six staff from three organisations were conducted from November 2021 to February 2022. One collaborative workshop with five older men and two staff from two organisations was held in November 2022. Data was analysed thematically with themes highlighting the men’s preferences and the complex process of engaging and delivering social participation activities which cater to the heterogenous nature of men.

Facilitators to delivery include cultivating reciprocity, role renewal, creative offerings, and responsive services. Challenges comprise funding discrepancies, varied roles with conflicting priorities and lack of available and suitable community spaces. Facilitators to men’s participation include stimulating and creative offerings, inherent motivation, mix gender groups, intergenerational activities, and therapeutic landscapes which create ‘in roads’ for participation. Challenges include the physical process of ageing, social anxiety, ambivalence to personal desires, navigating loss, and declining community connections.

A framework has been developed to provide a blueprint for practitioners working within communities to foster participation. The model emphasises the built environment and societal structures as necessary components to engaging men in social participation offerings. Additionally, an argument for the diversifying of Occupational Therapist’s skills is posited. In that, Occupational Therapists’ should be further utilised in community development, altering ageist attitudes, enhancing intergenerational connections, and serving as a bridge between sectors responsible for constructing environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: social inclusion, social isolation and loneliness, intergenerational activities, environment, community development
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 08:56
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2023 09:01
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51095

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