The importance of a room with a view for older people with limited mobility

Charles Musselwhite (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Publication date: 10 December 2018



The purpose of this paper is to examine how older people who are almost entirely housebound use a view from their window to make sense of the world and stay connected to the outside space that they cannot physically inhabit.


Semi-structured interviews with 42 individuals were carried out who were living at home, were relatively immobile and had an interesting view outside they liked from one or more of their windows.


The findings suggest that immobile older people enjoy watching a motion-full, changing, world going on outside of their own mobility and interact and create meaning and sense, relating themselves to the outside world.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that those working in health and social care must realise the importance of older people observing the outdoors and create situations where that is enabled and maintained through improving vantage points and potentially using technology.


This study builds and updates work by Rowles (1981) showing that preference for views from the window involves the immediate surveillance zone but also further afield. The view can be rural or urban but should include a human element from which older people can interact through storytelling. The view often contains different flows, between mundane and mystery and intrigue, and between expected and random.



Charles Musselwhite (2018) "The importance of a room with a view for older people with limited mobility", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 273-285

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