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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

ABSTRACT 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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Available from: Ilka Helene Gleibs, Aug 27, 2015
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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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    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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