In the context of increasing interest in how rurality affects health services and nursing practice in the UK, this paper reports and discusses data from a survey of older people living in three English villages. The survey found that village populations differed widely, that there were changes in the proportions of older people in the villages over time, and that close social networks existed for some but not all. The paper concludes that health care practitioners should avoid stereotypes of village life. In their increasing emphasis on health promotion and active ageing among older people, nurses may find data collected by the voluntary sector to be a useful resource. Working in partnership with groups to achieve a deep understanding of local contexts may assist nursing practitioners when building up pictures of older patients' health-related needs and views.
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