How do older adults describe the experience of taking part in a peer support group to improve wellbeing? A descriptive phenomenological study conducted over time

  • Miranda Quinney (Speaker)
  • Anne Fothergill (Speaker)
  • Yu, J. (Speaker)
  • Taylor, R. (Speaker)
  • Antonis Kousoulis (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

    Description

    Background and Aims
    The political response to Wales’ ageing population has been to strive to make Wales the best place in the world to grow older (Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, 2019). Third sector interventions to improve the wellbeing of older adults have been recognised by the Welsh Government as “pivotal” (Welsh Assembly Government, 2008). Many studies have been carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions, but there is little in-depth understanding of people’s experiences of participation. This study gives voice to older adults who participated in a peer support group taking place in a retirement housing scheme in South Wales.
    Methods
    Using a phenomenological design, the study focuses on the experience of taking part in a peer support group over 15 months. Data was gathered using one-to-one unstructured interviews with six participants in three phases. Phase One interviews took place whilst the group was led by professional facilitators. Phase Two interviews took place six months later when the group was peer led. The Phase Three interviews were conducted by telephone, six months thereafter during the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Findings
    Taking part in the group gave rise to feelings of positive emotions. It enabled participants to develop relationships and feelings of belonging. Participation in meaningful activities provided participants with a sense of purpose. They had something to look forward to.
    There were differences between the wellbeing experiences of group members and peer leaders. Being a peer leader was an opportunity to use skills and knowledge gained across their personal life course. These positive emotions included feelings of pride and control. The sense of purpose arising from leading the group stimulated feelings of engagement.
    Recommendations
    In the design of peer support groups for older adults, the wellbeing experience of peer leaders should be considered in addition to those of group members.

    Period21 Jun 2016
    Event titleHow do older adults describe the experience of taking part in a peer support group to improve wellbeing? A descriptive phenomenological study conducted over time
    Event typeConference
    LocationPontypridd, United Kingdom
    Degree of RecognitionRegional