Transition Into Care:Experiences of the Elderly as they Move to Residential Aged Care


  • Roz McKechnie Unitec Institute of Technology
  • Chrystal Jaye University of Otago
  • Beatrice Hale Unaffiliated
  • June Tordoff University of Otago
  • Linda Robertson Otago Polytechnic
  • Jean Simpson University of Otago
  • Mary Butler Otago Polytechnic



aged residential care, transition, liminality, quality


A move to residential care represents a significant transition for older people, between their former independent and autonomous lives, and dependence, frailty and death. The concept of transition is valuable in considering the quality of care. We argue that a successful transition to residential care is one measure of quality in care. We used an ethnographic approach that emphasises participant-observation and qualitative interviewing. Analysis of the transcripts revealed several themes, one of which, transition, is discussed in this paper. Transition theory, along with the concept of liminality, i.e. the betwixt and between status of the mostly unanticipated move from home to Residential Aged Care Facilities identifies and explains the complexities involved in the move into residential care for older people and their families.

Author Biographies

Roz McKechnie, Unitec Institute of Technology

Dr McKechnie is a Medical Anthropologist and Health Sciences researcher with an interest in end of life care, and living with chronic conditions. Her current research is a contract with Unitec developing, implementing and evaluating a navigator role working with families in stroke.

Chrystal Jaye, University of Otago

Associate Professor Jaye is a medical anthropologist whose research is highly eclectic, multi- and transdisciplinary. She has conducted research across the fields of medical anthropology and sociology, public health, medical education, and general practice. Her current research interests include communities of clinical practice and teamwork in healthcare settings, medical education, moral economy, and studies in aged care.

Beatrice Hale, Unaffiliated

Dr Hale is an anthropologist and former social worker with older people whose research is focussed on different forms of care: informal and formal,home and community, and institutional care. Her current research interests include studies in migrant communities and informal care throughout history.

June Tordoff, University of Otago

Associate Professor Tordoff is a pharmacist with experience of working with older people in hospital and community settings. Her research focuses on ‘medicines use in older people’ and on ‘medicines policies’ (i.e. on appropriate use of medicines, and access to medicines).

Linda Robertson, Otago Polytechnic

Associate Professor Robertson is an Occupational Therapy lecturer with an interest in ageing well and in client education. Her current research projects include immigrants’ access to health care and models of community based initiatives.

Jean Simpson, University of Otago

Dr Simpson is a qualitative and public health researcher, recently retired. She has an interest in ageing and experience in evaluating community initiatives. Her recent work includes injury prevention, child health and the determinants of health.

Mary Butler, Otago Polytechnic

Dr Butler is an anthropologist and occupational therapist. She has a focus in her work and research on disability and care, particularly about the complex issues that arise in the relationship between people with disability and those who care for them (either paid or upaid).




How to Cite

McKechnie, R., Jaye, C., Hale, B., Tordoff, J., Robertson, L., Simpson, J., & Butler, M. (2018). Transition Into Care:Experiences of the Elderly as they Move to Residential Aged Care. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 15(2).