Rural and Remote Health Journal photo
African section Asian section European section International section Latin American section North American section
current articles
information for authors
status/user profile
about us

Original Research

Forced into exile: the traumatising impact of rural aged care service inaccessibility

Submitted: 13 September 2011
Revised: 7 December 2011
Published: 13 March 2012

Full text: You can view the full article, or view a printable version.
Comments: (login to access the comments on this article)

Author(s) : Bernoth MA, Dietsch E, Davies C.

Maree BernothElaine DietschCarmel Davies

Citation: Bernoth MA, Dietsch E, Davies C.  Forced into exile: the traumatising impact of rural aged care service inaccessibility. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2012; 12: 1924. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  The shortage of residential aged care places is especially acute in rural areas and this results in many older people who live in these areas being forced to leave their home communities to access care in distant communities. This article reports on one aspect of a larger study that explored family and caring community members’ experiences when someone they cared for needed to access residential aged care away from their rural communities.
Methods:  This qualitative research project, informed by phenomenology, was conducted in rural communities of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Participants were recruited from media coverage of the proposed research. Indepth interviews were conducted, audiotaped and transcribed. Thematic analysis was undertaken by two researchers independently analysing the themes and then cross-checking these to ensure their strength.
Results:  The 21 interviews conducted revealed that inaccessibility of residential aged care places caused many to experience loss, loneliness and a sense of social disconnectedness. The affected rural older person is exiled from their home community only to return to be buried. There are implications for the family and the rural community who are distanced by kilometres, transport and finances and, more significantly, by the emotional ties that bind families, friends and communities.
Conclusion:  The participants whose experiences were explored in this article described a sense of being in exile when residential aged care services are inaccessible in their local communities. The sense of exile is felt not only by the person moving away but also by their family, friends and neighbours. For this reason, rural residential aged care service delivery should be based on the identified needs of the older person and those who love and care for them.

Key words: ageing, Australia, carers, disconnectedness, older people, rurality, service provision.

This abstract has been viewed 4385 times since 13-Mar-2012.