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Institutional Care for Older People in Developing Countries: The Case of Buenos Aires, Argentina

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This paper examines the quality of care provided by old age homes in developing countries. It draws attention to the growing demand for such services and the emergence of a largely unregulated private sector. The paper reviews the findings of a survey of 101 private old age homes conducted in Buenos Aires, Argentina during 2004 and 2005. This reveals that the quality of care leaves much to be desired, and that the rights, autonomy and dignity of older people are often neglected. Particular issues of concern are the repressive managerial structures (including the use of restraints and medication), questionable processes of admission, and limited support for dependent residents. The paper calls for long-term care to be given a higher policy profile in developing countries than is currently the case.

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  1. For example, according to a recent BBC News report about China, “Starting up an old people’s home is a guaranteed way of doing good business in China… So, many schools are changing into old people’s homes” (Reynolds 2007).

  2. These did not include homes containing six or fewer older people, as these were exempt from any regulation.

  3. Similar practices have been reported in other developing countries, such as India (Patel and Prince 2001).

  4. These informants had all indicated that they were happy to relate their personal experiences of being admitted and of life in the care homes when they were interviewed for the questionnaire.


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The Argentine survey was part of a wider regional study organised and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Pan American Health Association.

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Correspondence to Peter Lloyd-Sherlock.

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Lloyd-Sherlock, P., Redondo, N. Institutional Care for Older People in Developing Countries: The Case of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Population Ageing 2, 41–56 (2009).

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