Assisted living in rural areas: aging in blurred landscapes
Here, we explore the experiences and practices of care in the context of assisted living facilities (ALFs) in rural areas from the perspectives of family members, health care professionals, and senior citizen interest group representatives. Specifically, we focus on the potential for ALFs to safeguard and unify the health care policy ambitions of equity, quality, and aging in place. Focus group interviews with health care professionals and interest group representatives and individual interviews with family members were conducted in largely rural Norwegian municipalities. Providing high-quality health care services in people’s homes remains challenging, particularly in rural areas. ALFs have been introduced as a compromise, a home away from home. In rural areas, ALFs are typically localized in community centers. ALFs are neither homes nor nursing homes, and residents possess varying and changing care needs. Several parties experience challenges with respect to safety, evolving care needs, and responsibilities. Moreover, the service allocation and user payment systems may undermine equity. This study indicates that health care authorities should evaluate whether prioritizing assisted living is still suitable for the aging population in rural areas and beyond.
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