Loss and grief: The experience of transition to residential aged care

Gabriella Zizzo, Catherine Mackenzie, Carol Irizarry, Ian Goodwin-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing recognition of the experience of non-death-related loss and grief. One unexplored area of non-death-related loss and grief is associated with older people’s transition from home to residential aged care (RAC). This paper reports findings from a qualitative study that explored the experiences of people living in RAC, carer-relatives of people living in RAC and RAC staff. Using theories of loss and grief, the paper identifies features of the transition to RAC that are associated with unresolved loss and maladaptation to changed circumstances, and the types of support that would mitigate these. Using a series of focus groups with both residents and carer-relatives, as well as staff, the study found that residents and their families need more support to negotiate the multiple, often necessarily hasty decisions and bureaucratic requirements associated with transitioning to RAC, while simultaneously experiencing loss and grief. The types of support that families would welcome from service providers include facilitating shared decision making, valuing family and community carer expertise and providing practical information and assistance to fulfil administrative obligations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-491
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • aged care policy
  • ageing
  • loss and grief support
  • non-death-related loss
  • residential aged care


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