A home, an institution and a community – frames of social relationships and interaction in assisted living

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Katariina Tuominen
Ilkka Pietilä
Marja Jylhä
Jari Pirhonen

Abstract

Assisted living facilities are presented as the older person’s home but, at the same time, defined by institutional and communal characteristics. Using Goffman’s (1974/1986) concept of frame, we aim to find out how home, institution and community frames define social roles and shape social relationships and interaction in assisted living facilities. Directed content analysis was used to analyse the data consisting of observations, one group discussion and ten individual interviews with residents in an assisted living facility. We found that the home frame was characterised by meaningfulness, spontaneousness and informality of social relation­ships and interaction, whereas the institution frame by indifference and formality of them. Acknowledging and tolerating other people was not only central in the community frame but also dissociating oneself from some people. Frames can shed light on how different interpretations of the multifaceted social environment of assisted living affect homeliness of the facility and well-being of the residents.

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