Older adults who move to independent living units: a regional Australian study

Document Type


Publication details

Horstmanshof, L, Garbutt, R & Brownie, S in press, 'Older adults who move to independent living units: a regional Australian study', Australian Journal of Psychology.

Published version available from


Peer Reviewed



Objective: The purpose of this study was to ask older adults in a regional area of Australia how they made the decision to move into an independent living unit (ILU) within a three-tier residential complex that provides varying services and care to older adults.

Method: Focus groups were used to enable the gathering of rich data and to enable the voices of older adults. A deductive qualitative analysis (Gilgun, Qualitative research in social work, 2nd ed., pp. 107–135, 2013) was deployed using the factors for a successful later-life transition to an aged-care facility identified in the researchers’ earlier systematic review.

Results: Feelings of autonomy and control over the decision to move were important to all respondents. Any sense of loss of day-to-day autonomy, privacy and purpose, was compensated for by increased feelings of safety and security. Selected items brought from the old home to the new were a significant source of comfort.

Conclusions: This study provides the views and experiences of 19 older adults from regional Australia about moving into ILUs in a three-tier complex. The values and missions of the complex were important in the relocation decision-making. Further, if the choice is between living near friends or family, participants recommended choosing friends. The strategic choice of an ILU in a three-tier complex was seen as providing appropriate care into an unknown future. This study highlights the importance for older adults, their families and health-care professionals of making timely relocation decisions and the importance for older adults to retain autonomy and control over the relocation decision.

Find in your library