Increased physical activity is widely promoted as beneficial for older people, but previous research indicates this may be difficult to implement in care homes, especially for people with dementia who form an increasing proportion of residents. Care home cultures can mitigate against physical activity for residents, but there is also scope for them to embed personalised physical activity. They are under-researched, but significant in terms of outcomes and quality of life for residents. This paper builds understanding of care home cultures of physical activity through qualitative, empirical research in five care homes. Key findings are that culturally framed views about physical activity, sometimes reflecting stereotypical views of dependency, can be seen in care homes. Managers, staff and residents may be invested in or resistant to physical activity and dominant managerial or societal views may be reflected or contested. The relatively closed boundaries of care homes reinforce sedentariness, and resident involvement in either chosen or enforced physical activity is varied. Interactions demonstrate potential to negotiate physical activity more or less effectively in any given care home. Rigid routines, external regulations and pressure on staffing can be negative, but management commitment has positive potential. In conclusion, the paper identifies that to increase physical activity in a sustainable manner, any intervention needs to address issues of culture change and individual needs and preferences.
- care home
- physical activity