OBJECTIVE: This study explores the relationship between gender and the interactions of care staff and elderly people with dementia in residential care. DESIGN: Non-participant, time-sampling observation and coding of interactions between staff and residents. SETTING: 36-bed independent (not-for-profit) long-term care unit. SUBJECTS: 36 elderly people with dementia (19 men and 17 women); 37 care staff (30 women and 7 men). MEASURES: The Quality of Interactions Schedule (QUIS). RESULTS: Male residents initiated significantly more interactions with staff than female residents. Men did not initiate interactions with female staff significantly more often than with male staff. Women did not initiate any interactions with male staff. Female staff initiated more interactions with residents than did male staff. Both male and female staff initiated a higher proportion of interactions with male residents than with female residents. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that gender may be a significant factor determining the rate of interactions between staff and residents in residential care, but further studies are required to confirm their generalizability across settings.
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