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‘It pushed me back into the human race’: evaluative findings from a community Christmas event

, BSc MA PhD PGCAP FHEA HCPC registered , 1 , , DipCOT MSc PGCAP FHEA HCPC registered 1 , , DipSW BA ACCA PGCE HCPC registered 2

Health & Social Care in the Community

John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Christmas, community, intergenerational relationships, loneliness, older people, volunteering

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      Abstract

      Many older people in Britain spend Christmas day alone. The Christmas period may be especially difficult for older people who are socially isolated, living with dementia or who have physical impairments, and may feel particularly marginalised at this time of year. This paper draws on evaluative research findings from a community Christmas event held in December 2014 at the University of Salford for older people and their carers who would be on their own on Christmas day. A multi‐method approach was employed, seven guests took part in semi‐structured interviews to explore their experiences and perceptions of the event, seven staff and student volunteers participated in a group interview to explore and discuss their participation in the event. Data collection took place during April and May 2015. Interview transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis. Three overarching themes were identified from the interviews: ‘reasons for participants attending the event’, ‘a different Christmas day: the impact on guests and volunteers’, and ‘learning, planning and moving forwards’. The findings illustrate that a range of people participated in the Christmas day event for a variety of reasons. The event itself had a positive impact, including the shared experience of social belonging, for all involved. There are tangible longer term benefits as a result of the event, such as ongoing contact between participants and the development of supportive networks in the local community.

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      Most cited references 21

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      Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: a community-based longitudinal study.

      Few data are available on the effect of social ties on dementia development. This study explored whether single social network components and different degrees of the social connections affect dementia incidence. A community-based cohort of 1203 non-demented people, living at home in the Kungsholmen district of Stockholm, Sweden, and who had good cognition, was followed for an average period of 3 years. On the basis of medical and psychological data, 176 patients were diagnosed with dementia according to the criteria of the third edition revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Information on social network was obtained by personal interview by trained nurses at baseline. The covariates included in the analysis were age, sex, education, cognitive and functional status, depressive symptoms, and vascular diseases. Those individuals living alone, and those without any close social ties, both had an adjusted relative risk for developing dementia of 1.5 (95% CI 1.0-2.1 and 1.0-2.4, respectively). Compared with married people living with someone, single people and those living alone had an adjusted relative risk of 1.9 (95% CI 1.2-3.1). Infrequent contacts with network resources did not increase the risk of the disease if such contacts were experienced as satisfying. When all components were combined in an index, a poor or limited social network increased the risk of dementia by 60% (95% CI 1.2-2.1), and a significant gradient was found for the four degrees of social connections (p=0.0009). An extensive social network seems to protect against dementia. Confirmation of this finding and further investigation to clarify the mechanisms are worthwhile due to the implications for prevention.
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        Differential benefits of volunteering across the life course.

        Studies often fail to adequately test the causal relationship between volunteering and well-being. Yet the media and empirical research have focused attention on the impact of volunteering on the well-being of elderly persons. This study addresses two questions: First, does volunteering improve the psychological and physical well-being of elderly persons? Second, do elderly volunteers experience different benefits than younger adults? Using nationally representative panel data, I assessed the long-term impact of volunteering on the life satisfaction and perceived health of persons aged 60 and over. I then compared ordinary least squares regression results for seniors with those for younger adults. I found that older volunteers experienced greater increases in life satisfaction over time as a result of their volunteer hours than did younger adult volunteers, especially at high rates of volunteering. Older adults experienced greater positive changes in their perceived health than did younger adult volunteers. The type of volunteer work in which older and younger adults engage may be part of the reason for these differential effects. But the context in which older and younger adults volunteer and the meaning of their voluntarism are more likely explanations. Researchers should take into account volunteer commitment when studying volunteering's effect on well-being, not simply volunteer role.
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          Using Software in Qualitative Research

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [ 1 ] School of Health Sciences The University of Salford Salford UK
            [ 2 ] School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences The University of Salford Salford UK
            Author notes
            [* ] Correspondence

            Tracy Collins

            School of Health Sciences

            The University of Salford

            Frederick Road, Salford

            Greater Manchester M6 6PU, UK

            E‐mail: t.collins@ 123456salford.ac.uk

            Contributors
            t.collins@salford.ac.uk
            Journal
            Health Soc Care Community
            Health Soc Care Community
            10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2524
            HSC
            Health & Social Care in the Community
            John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
            0966-0410
            1365-2524
            09 March 2016
            September 2017
            : 25
            : 5 ( doiID: 10.1111/hsc.2017.25.issue-5 )
            : 1601-1606
            26956945
            5573970
            10.1111/hsc.12342
            HSC12342
            © 2016 The Authors. Health and Social Care in the Community Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

            This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Counts
            Figures: 0, Tables: 1, Pages: 6, Words: 4331
            Product
            Funding
            Funded by: Wellcome Trust
            Award ID: WT107307AIA
            Categories
            Original Article
            Original Articles
            Custom metadata
            2.0
            hsc12342
            September 2017
            Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.1.8 mode:remove_FC converted:29.08.2017

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