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Experience of place for young adults under 65 years with complex disabilities moving into purpose-built residential care


  • Muenchberger, Heidi
  • Ehrlich, Carolyn
  • Kendall, Elizabeth
  • Vit, Marina


The aim of this research was to examine first-person accounts of the significance of place for young adults (aged between 18 and 65 years of age) with complex disabilities moving into purpose-built residential care accommodation. Interviews with residents, family members and staff working at the accommodation site considered the impact of the physical, care and social environment on the experience of place. Five elements of experience were identified, including (a) freedom and self-expression, (b) designed for disability (c) flexible and responsive care environment, (d) establishing relationships and (e) defining spaces. Findings confirmed the need for a ‘value added approach’ to housing and support for young adults with complex disability. A value added approach extends the importance of place beyond the physical context for people with complex conditions and incorporates essential symbolic and relational concepts of value –being of value (for family members), having value (for residents) and giving value (for staff). The framework of the therapeutic landscape is applied within the context of supported residential care and the factors that promote a healing environment are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Muenchberger, Heidi & Ehrlich, Carolyn & Kendall, Elizabeth & Vit, Marina, 2012. "Experience of place for young adults under 65 years with complex disabilities moving into purpose-built residential care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2151-2159.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2151-2159 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.08.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Williams, Allison, 2002. "Changing geographies of care: employing the concept of therapeutic landscapes as a framework in examining home space," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 141-154, July.
    2. Gesler, Wilbert M., 1992. "Therapeutic landscapes: Medical issues in light of the new cultural geography," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 735-746, April.
    3. Cummins, Steven & Curtis, Sarah & Diez-Roux, Ana V. & Macintyre, Sally, 2007. "Understanding and representing 'place' in health research: A relational approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1825-1838, November.
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