Transportation, Social Support by Family Visitation, and Depression of Older Adult Nursing Home Residents: A Mixed-Methods Study

Vivian Miller, University of Texas at Arlington

Summary:

Older adults who live in nursing homes are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety, and research has shown that social connections and family support are key factors that positively impact their mental health. However, research also suggests that one of the primary barriers to maintaining those relationships, and enabling family members to visit residents, is transportation. This NITC dissertation examined transportation barriers of family members in the community visiting their loved ones in long-term care nursing homes. The researcher collected data at 11 nursing home sites in three cities: Arlington, Fort Worth, and Weatherford, Texas. She surveyed 65 pairs of a nursing home resident and one of their family members (a total of 130 respondents), and then conducted in-depth follow-up interviews with 11 family members of residents. These case studies uncovered rich, in-depth experiences of family visiting residents. One recommendation that emerged from this project was for social workers in nursing homes to work with the community on solving transportation issues – such as working with a local transit system, providing subsidies or vouchers. In partnership with social workers and allied health care professionals, transportation planners ought to continue to explore innovative transportation assessments that include at-risk, marginalized, and isolated populations, such as residents in nursing homes and older adults.

Impacts:

At this point, the research expects to help to identify the impact visitation of family members, which is facilitated by transportation access and opportunities, has on the mental well-being of residents in nursing homes. Ideally, this research will improve transportation access and opportunities for family members, thus having an effect on resident well-being. 

Project Details

Project Type:
Dissertation
Project Status:
Completed
End Date:
May 12,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Dissertation Fellowships 2018
UTC Funding:
$15,000