The experience of socially isolated older people in accessing and navigating the health care system

Moira Greaves, Cath Rogers-Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This article reports findings from a study exploring the challenges experienced by socially isolated and unwell older people as they attempted to access the health care system. Understanding the specific issues confronting these individuals would inform the development of more appropriate models of community-based aged care. Design: A longitudinal qualitative, interpretive study using a case study approach with indepth interviewing. Setting: This study was conducted in metropolitan Brisbane, with frail older people who were accessed via their GP service. Participants: Six participants who met pre-determined selection criteria were recruited to this longitudinal study, and interviewed twice over a six month period. Findings: Fear emerged as a common experience embracing aspects of daily life such as depletion of social networks, being dependent on others, loss of mobility and diminishing ability to drive. Inadequate or unreliable public transport resulted in extended waiting times to attend medical appointments. Conclusions: Despite efforts to address the specific issues of frail older people living independently, this study highlights the suffering experienced by those who are socially isolated and lack the knowledge, skills, physical wellbeing and support to locate and access relevant health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Access health/medical services
  • Aged
  • Aged care
  • Older
  • Social isolation


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