Contrary to conventional wisdom, assisted living residents might not place a high value on how “homelike” their surroundings are, suggest findings out of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.

Out of eight assisted living residents who participated, all “seemed pleased with their current living environment” and their scores on the Geriatric Depression Scale did not raise any red flags, wrote study author Courtney J. Wright. Yet, few of them had personal items from their previous homes, and they expressed scant interest in creating a more homelike setting.

One participant said that the assisted living facility would never be similar to a private home and dismissed efforts to “sugarcoat” this fact, Wright noted. Others echoed this idea. Many of the participants explained that personal effects in their apartments had been brought there by family members.

Far more important to the residents’ sense of wellbeing was their feeling that the environment was safe and that staff members cared about them, Wright determined.

“The use of an individual’s first name by staff cannot be [overstated], as it was reiterated by all eight of the respondents as being a prime example of genuine caring,” she wrote.

The small scale of the study was a limitation, Wright acknowledged. She identified the residents’ desire for the facility to stay away from “soft imitations” of “home living” as an area for further research.

Wright completed the clinical research paper as a graduation requirement for the Master of Social Work program. Click here to access the complete document.