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

Tracy Collins, Christine Kenney, Gabrielle Hesk

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1606
Number of pages6
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
Volume25
Issue number5
Early online date9 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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