Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy) Honours


School of Exercise and Health Sciences


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Supervisor

Professor Ruth Marquis

Second Supervisor

Dr Julie Dare


The older adult population in Western Australia (WA) has significantly increased over the last decade and continues to grow, highlighting the importance of maintaining their health, wellbeing and independence. This may be achieved by facilitating active ageing, enabling older adults to continue to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, contribute positively to society, and lower the demand on costly health and human services. Conversely, a lack of social engagement and community participation may hinder healthy ageing and lead to social isolation, which is adversely related to the quality of life and health status of older adults. Occupational participation is critical to active ageing and occupational therapists have the capacity to facilitate older adults’ continued connection with their community. To date, there appears a paucity of occupational therapy research exploring the factors contributing to the community and social participation of community dwelling older adults living in WA. Research indicates that programs and activities encouraging community and social engagement are more successful when they have been developed with the input of the participants they are targeting. Therefore, this research aimed to identify barriers and enablers to participation in community-based activities experienced by older adults living in the northern suburbs of metropolitan Perth, WA. This generic qualitative exploratory study employed the Theory of Human Occupation and the Model of Human Occupation framework. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 older adults, and transcripts analysed using thematic analysis. Analysis identified four reoccurring themes of meaning that were enablers and/or barriers to community participation. These were: relationships; interests; personal knowledge and awareness; and resources and the environment. It was concluded that intrinsic factors such as developing or maintaining strong relationships and developing interests enabled community participation. Barriers identified within this study included group culture and group structure (e.g. over 60 years specific) and difficulty accessing transport. Recommendations were established to inform the development of future programs aimed at increasing community participation amongst this group