An exploration of health professionals’ learning about ageing, old age and older patients: a biographical-narrative interpretative study

  • Doro Bechinger-English

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Health professionals work increasingly with patients who are older, and who are likely to have multiple long-term conditions. A significant proportion of the patients are considered to be frail and/or vulnerable.

This small study of two nurses, two occupational therapists and one medical practitioner, explores how health professionals –– learn about ageing, old age and working with older patients. Using a biographical narrative method for data collection, and taking a hermeneutic approach to the interpretation of the data, the data provides insight into the subjective experiences of the participants, and the deeper meanings the participants associated with their experience.

The data show that learning to work with older people is linked to the learner’s biography, and is a multi-layered and individualised process which takes place in an organisational, as well as a wider societal and historical context. The learning biography of each of the participants is unique, and links to the individual’s personal and professional experiences, life events, and the choices they made; as well as to the wider context in which they worked and lived. The participants
developed different forms of knowledge during their professional and personal life, throughout their life course; including propositional knowledge, as well as their values, beliefs, perceptions about older people and their patients. The data also reveal some of the emotions experienced by the participants, and the development of less tangible qualities such attitudes, curiosity, aspiration, compassion and hope.

Learning can be informal and formal, intentional and unintentional. This study also includes reflections about the position of the researcher and their relationship with the data in a study like this.
Date of AwardSep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorColin Goble (Supervisor), Colin Coles (Supervisor) & Samantha Scallan (Supervisor)

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