'The Last Refuge' revisited: Continuity and change in residential care



The Last Refuge (Townsend, 1962) reported a study of residential care for older people carried out in the late 1950s. The original data are deposited in the National Social Policy and Social Change Archive at the University of Essex. The aims of the current study are: (i) to analyse and comment on changes in residential care provision at the national level in England and Wales between 1959 and 2005 (drawing on existing data); (ii) to document and explain changes in the use of properties that, in 1959, housed the residential care facilities studied by Peter Townsend (the tracing study); (ii) to document and explain changes in daily life for staff and residents in residential care over the same period (the follow up study); (iv) to contribute to the development of methodologies for revisiting studies and the reuse of archived qualitative data; (v) to develop procedures for engaging older people as research collaborators, specifically in undertaking local investigations and in keeping diaries.


Johnson, J., Rolph, S. and Smith, R. (2007) ‘Revisiting “The Last Refuge”: Present day methodological challenges’ (pp. 89-104) in Bernard, M. and Scharf, T. (eds) Critical Perspectives on Ageing Societies, Bristol, Policy Press.

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