No country for old men? The role of a Gentlemen's Club in promoting social engagement and psychological well-being in residential care

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
Aging and Mental Health (Impact Factor: 1.75). 05/2011; 15(4):456-66. DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2010.536137
Source: PubMed


Social isolation is a common problem in older people who move into care that has negative consequences for well-being. This is of particular concern for men, who are marginalised in long-term care settings as a result of their reduced numbers and greater difficulty in accessing effective social support, relative to women. However, researchers in the social identity tradition argue that developing social group memberships can counteract the effects of isolation. We test this account in this study by examining whether increased socialisation with others of the same gender enhances social identification, well-being (e.g. life satisfaction, mood), and cognitive ability.
Care home residents were invited to join gender-based groups (i.e. Ladies and Gentlemen's Clubs). Nine groups were examined (five male groups, four female groups) comprising 26 participants (12 male, 14 female), who took part in fortnightly social activities. Social identification, personal identity strength, cognitive ability and well-being were measured at the commencement of the intervention and 12 weeks later.
A clear gender effect was found. For women, there was evidence of maintained well-being and identification over time. For men, there was a significant reduction in depression and anxiety, and an increased sense of social identification with others.
While decreasing well-being tends to be the norm in long-term residential care, building new social group memberships in the form of gender clubs can counteract this decline, particularly among men.

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    • "The present findings are therefore consistent with previous claims that groupbased activities are an important vehicle for delivering meaningful and engaging opportunities for older adults – particularly with regard to maintaining well-being and counteracting negative experiences (Gleibs et al., 2011b). "
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    ABSTRACT: Maintenance of well-being is recognised as important for well-being in residential care, but the particular contribution that social groups and group activities make in this context is rarely considered. To understand how we can foster well-being in care, this study explores (a) older adults’ general experiences of life in long-term residential care, and (b) their particular experiences of participation in this group intervention. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with long-term care home residents and interview transcripts were analysed thematically. Thematic Analysis revealed two over-riding themes that illustrated participants’ general experiences of life in care. The first theme, ‘care home as home’, suggested that adjustment and positive social relations with carers play a role in enhancing well-being. The second theme, ‘being stuck’, described a general sense of confinement and a lack of control associated with living in long-term care. The significance of collective engagement became evident in relation to this second theme. Specifically, participants’ involvement in the group activity considered here was experienced as making a positive contribution to building social relations with other residents and, in doing so, as reducing residents’ sense of confinement and lack of control. Engagement in the group intervention and the resulting positive social relationships were thus experienced as a means of counteracting participants’ sense of ‘being stuck’. Overall, the findings point to the importance of group activities in fostering older adults’ autonomy and control – and thus well-being – in care.
    Activities Adaptation & Aging 12/2014; 38(4):259-280. DOI:10.1080/01924788.2014.966542
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    • "In another residential care intervention, gender clubs were introduced to counteract negative effects of social isolation (Gleibs et al., 2011b). Residents were invited to join either gentlemen's or ladies' clubs that involved them in various social activities and outings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Considerable evidence now exists that people can draw on social groups in order to maintain and enhance health and well-being. We review this evidence and suggest that social identity theorizing, and its development in the social identity approach to health and well-being, can help us to understand the way that groups, and the identities that underpin them, can promote a social cure. Specifically, we propose that social groups are important psychological resources that have the capacity to protect health and well-being, but that they are only utilized effectively when individuals perceive they share identity with another individual or group. However, as powerful as shared identities may be, their consequences for health are largely ignored in policy and practice. In this review, we offer a novel direction for policy, identifying ways in which building and consolidating group identification can help to capitalize effectively on the potential of group membership for health. Using this as a basis to increase awareness, we go further to offer practical interventions aimed at assessing identity resources as substantial and concrete assets, which can be cultivated and harnessed in order to realize their health-enhancing potential.
    Social Issues and Policy Review 01/2014; 8(102):128. DOI:10.1111/sipr.12003
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    • "Speaking to the importance of social identity for issues of health, a growing body of research has shown that multiple group memberships can become the basis of a 'social cure' (after Haslam, Jetten, Postmes, & Haslam, 2009; Jetten, Haslam, & Haslam, 2012) by playing a protective role in recovery from a range of medical conditions , including stroke (Haslam et al., 2008) and brain injury (Jones et al., 2012). Particularly relevant to the present study is evidence from a series of small-sample survey and experimental studies (e.g., Gleibs et al., 2011; Haslam & Reicher, 2006) which shows that group membership, and the sense of social identification derived from this, is a strong predictor of depressive symptoms (Cruwys, Haslam, Dingle, Haslam, & Jetten, 2013) and a better predictor than social contact alone (Sani, Herrera, Wakefield, Boroch, & Gulyas, 2012). As such, the benefits of social group membership are not reducible to the physical opportunities for social interaction they afford, but also stem from their capacity to furnish individuals with a more abstract sense of shared identity with others. "
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of research suggests that a lack of social connectedness is strongly related to current depression and increases vulnerability to future depression. However, few studies speak to the potential benefits of fostering social connectedness among persons already depressed or to the protective properties of this for future depression trajectories. We suggest that this may be in part because connectedness tends to be understood in terms of (difficult to establish) ties to specific individuals rather than ties to social groups. The current study addresses these issues by using population data to demonstrate that the number of groups that a person belongs to is a strong predictor of subsequent depression (such that fewer groups predicts more depression), and that the unfolding benefits of social group memberships are stronger among individuals who are depressed than among those who are non-depressed. These analyses control for initial group memberships, initial depression, age, gender, socioeconomic status, subjective health status, relationship status and ethnicity, and were examined both proximally (across 2 years, N = 5055) and distally (across 4 years, N = 4087). Depressed respondents with no group memberships who joined one group reduced their risk of depression relapse by 24%; if they joined three groups their risk of relapse reduced by 63%. Together this evidence suggests that membership of social groups is both protective against developing depression and curative of existing depression. The implications of these results for public health and primary health interventions are discussed.
    Social Science & Medicine 09/2013; 98:179-186. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.013 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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