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A significant number of adults under 65 years of age (“younger residents”) with disabilities need residential care, of which some live in aged residential care (ARC) facilities.

No New Zealand research was found regarding the appropriateness of ARC facilities and the impact that this environment may have on younger residents. This qualitative study aimed to gain an understanding of the impact that living in ARC facilities is having on the perceived QoL of under 65 year old residents who suffer from chronic health conditions or disabilities.

A post-positivist approach was employed to address the research questions posed in this study. Purposive sampling was adopted to recruit participants into the study. Eight participants were interviewed in an ARC facility where 30 of the 129 residents were under the age of 65 years. Transcripts of the interviews were thematically analysed.

From the interviews conducted two main themes emerged related to the concept of QoL: the care home environment and social relationships. This study indicates that the ability of residents under 65 years of age to adapt to life in care homes may be positively influenced by an ability to cope with care home living conditions. In addition, meaningful indoor activities were a key part of the daily life of care home residents, whilst engagement in indoor activities supports the evolvement of friendships.

Furthermore, participants were positive about living part of their lives in the community by visiting places such as bars, shops or gardens. They also appreciated the company of friends, staff and other residents.

Finally, it is recommended that the Ministry of Health consider changes to their funding model to enable service providers to change care programs and/or provide more appropriate housing for the under 65 year old residents in ARC, provide support and resources needed to create appropriate housing arrangements for younger residents in ARC and revise contracts to provide for placing younger people together in certain care homes.

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