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The lived experience of bathing adaptations in the homes of older adults and their carers (BATH‐OUT): A qualitative interview study

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The onset of disability in bathing may be followed by disability in other daily activities for older adults. A bathing adaptation usually involves the removal of a bath or inaccessible shower and replacement with a level, easy access shower. The purpose is to remove the physical environmental barriers and restore older adults’ ability to bathe safely and/or independently. The aim of this study was to explore the views and experiences of older adults and their carers who had received a bathing adaptation in order to examine how the adaptation had affected them and identify mechanisms of impact and outcomes from their perspectives. The study was nested within a feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) (BATH‐OUT) conducted within one local authority housing adaptations service in England. Semi‐structured interviews were completed between 21 December 2016 and 19 August 2017 with 21 older adults and five carer participants of the feasibility RCT. Interview participants were purposively sampled on living arrangement and gender. Interviews were audio‐recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed in seven stages using framework analysis. Findings were presented thematically. Five themes were identified: ease of use; feeling safe; feeling clean; independence, choice and control; and confidence and quality of life. The removal of the physical barriers in the bathroom led to older adults re‐mastering the activity of bathing, having an improved sense of physical functioning which gave a sense of ‘freedom’. This appeared to impact a range of areas contributing to a wider sense of increased confidence consistent with constructs underpinning social care‐related quality of life. We suggest that future research should examine housing adaptations from a person–environment fit approach, and that timely restoration of bathing ability is especially important as it can affect confidence and perceived competence in other areas of daily living.
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Keywords: bathing disability; housing adaptations; older adults; person–environment fit; prevention; social care

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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