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Background: Day centres are a substantial element of community-based support for older people in many countries. However, assumptions that they are an outdated or costly service model have resulted in many centre closures in England. The perspectives of 42 people attending, providing, making referrals to or purchasing places at four diverse day centres for older people were collected in interviews. Using these data, we explore day centres’ relevance to social workers’ efforts to promote person-centred support for older people enabling them to maintain or improve their well-being. These are explored from the perspectives of choice, control and person-centredness and local authority responsibilities for shaping the care market under the Care Act 2014. Findings: Attenders highly valued centres’ congregate nature and the continuity they offered which contributed to the development of person-centred relationships. Attenders exercised choice in attending day centres. Social work staff were more positive about day centres’ relevance to personalisation than those responsible for making decisions about the shape of local care services. Applications: With social isolation recognised as a serious risk of old age, the value of togetherness in group environments may need highlighting. Enactment of personalisation policies need not necessarily lead to individualisation; day centres may be community-based assets for some. Those shaping the care market may be encouraged to acknowledge wider outcomes, and frontline social workers may benefit from hearing positive experiences that may help in the development of effective care plans for older people who would like to benefit from day centre participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1338
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number6
Early online date30 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Social work
  • community care
  • older people
  • personalisation
  • qualitative research


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