Through a semi-longitudinal ethnographic case study,  the ‘Inside Age Care’ project investigated the day-to-day ‘lived experience’ for residents of one Brisbane aged care facility over three years (2014–2016).

Led by Queensland University of Technology researchers Associate Professor Evonne Miller, Professor Laurie Buys and Research Fellow Geraldine Donoghue, this research was funded by the Australian Research Council (Grant LP130100036) and industry partner BallyCara.

Over one hundred people—residents (retirement village, residential aged care, nursing home, dementia and respite), their family and friends, and the aged care workforce (from nurses and carers through to cooks and administrators)—participated in repeated in-depth interviews, workshops, surveys, observations and creative arts-based activities (Photovoice and Poetic Inquiry).

A key project outcome is our exhibition, “Living in Aged Care: A photographic exhibition of laughter, loss and leisure” at the State Library of Queensland, 23 January to 28 February 2017. This exhibition provides rare and intimate insight into the often-private world of aged care. As well as highlighting cherished interactions and activities with friends, family and staff (laughter and leisure), the photographs taken by residents, staff and the research team poignantly capture the changes, challenges and resilience of older age – the increasing awareness of life’s fragility and resident’s experience of illness, dying and grief (loss). Overall, the exhibition reminds us (in the words of 86 year old Betty) that life is for living:  

You mustn’t think, ‘I’m getting old’ therefore I can’t do this or can’t do that. You just get on with it and live it, keeping your mind alert and alive. Be sensible and be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do. But don’t ever feel sorry for yourself that you’re getting older, because what is there to be sorry about? If you live everyday of your life totally  and absolutely, it doesn’t matter that the life you are living now isn’t  quite as big as it was ten years ago. You are just filling that day because that’s all you’ve got – so use it well. This is now and this is today. Be grateful, whether you are 50, 60, 70 or 20, 30, 40 – you’re alive, girl”


All photographs from the exhibition are in our Flickr feed.

We encourage you to use them, through a Creative Commons license.