Perceptions of older adults living in long-term care institutions regarding recreational physiotherapy: a qualitative study

Physiother Theory Pract. 2022 Jan;38(1):67-75. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2020.1728795. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Background: Long-term care institutions (LTCIs) present a limiting environment. Physiotherapy through recreational exercises can stimulate older adults.Objective: To explore LTCIs residents' perceptions regarding recreational physiotherapy.Method: This is a descriptive qualitative study. Participants included older adults living in two LTCIs, who took part in recreational physiotherapy and did not display severe communication problems or cognitive deficits. The activity was regularly offered in both LTCIs. Semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded to analyze the participants' perceptions of physiotherapy. We also observed video footage of the participants' behaviors during one session of the recreational activity. The audio recordings were transcribed, and content analysis was conducted with MAXQDA 12®.Results: Nine older adults participated, the majority women (n = 6), with a mean age of 83.8 ± 7.4 years. The interviews' average duration was about 30 minutes. The reports revealed three themes. In the "activity for myself" theme, participants discussed issues related to their own old age. In the "activity with others" theme, participants reported physiotherapy's value for providing sense of collectivity. In the "activity itself" theme, the components of physiotherapy and their benefits were evaluated. Observation of the video recording revealed that each resident engaged in the activity at their own pace and within their capabilities.Conclusions: The experience of older adults living in LTCIs showed that the regularly practicing physical exercises in recreational group, strengthens social bonds and provides physical and emotional well-being. When formulating and executing physiotherapy in the context of LTCIs, professionals should consider the residents' perceptions of the practice.

Keywords: Aged; long-term care facility; perception; physical activity; physiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Qualitative Research