This paper explores the identities and lifestyle choices of older people participating in the AKTIVE study and considers how telecare can support the maintenance of independence and preferred identities. Focusing on older people living at home with different types of frailty, the AKTIVE project aimed both to enhance understanding of how they (and those supporting them) accessed, engaged with and used the telecare equipment supplied to them, and to explore the consequences for them of doing so. The paper focuses on strategies and situations which enable older people to retain important elements of their identity, including their attachment to home and good relations within families. It also examines the circumstances in which telecare can be a source of stigma for older people, compromising self-perceptions and viewed as a sign of dependency. The paper draws on research evidence about who the older people in the AKTIVE study felt they ‘really are’. Using three key concepts, ‘identity’, ‘choice’ and ‘stigma’, it explores the subjective realities older people shared in talk and interactions during research visits over six to nine months in 2012-13 and outlines the ‘identity-management strategies’, which are conceptualised as a form of resilience, used by older people to maintain or protect cherished elements of their identities and the role of telecare in these choices, behaviours and strategies.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to summarise two 2014 research papers that highlight the role of social interactions and the social world in recovery in the context of mental distress.
Design/methodology/approach: The author summarise two papers: one is about two theories from social psychology that help us understand social identity – our sense of who we are. The other brings together and looks at the similarities and differences between ten different therapies that can be called resource-oriented – that is, they focus on people's strengths and resources rather than what is wrong with them.
Findings: The paper on social identity gives a convincing case for incorporating teaching about social identity – and the social groups to which people belong – into the training of mental health professionals. The paper on resource-oriented therapies suggests that social relationships are a main component of all ten therapies examined. This second paper suggested a need for more research and theory relating to resource-oriented therapies. Social identity theory could help address this issue. Mental health services may be able to help people more by focusing on their established and desired social identities and group-belonging, and their strengths, than is usual.
Originality/value: These two papers seem timely given the growing recognition of the role of social factors in the development and maintenance of mental distress. More attention to social factors in recovery could help make it more self-sustaining.
Mindfulness is a form of meditative practice that involves paying attention to present-moment experiences in a non-judgemental way in order to cultivate a stable and nonreactive awareness. Although mindfulness has been studied in relation to various health conditions, no known published study exists which considers mindfulness in the context of visual impairment. Semi-structured interviews were therefore conducted with blind and partially sighted individuals who participated in regular mindfulness practice. Their narratives were then analysed thematically. The results suggest that mindfulness enhanced spiritual well-being by increasing their sense of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal ‘connectedness’, which was seen to be related to a self-perceived increase in emotional, social, and physical health. The findings of this exploratory study call for further research into the utility of mindfulness as a well-being resource for individuals with a visual impairment.