The conceptualisation of vital communities related to ageing in place: a scoping review

K.E. Pani-Harreman*, J.M.A. van Duren, G.I.J.M. Kempen, G.J.J.W. Bours

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Older people today are more likely to age in their own private living environment. However, many face declining health and/or other issues that affect their ability to live independently and necessitate additional support. Such support can be provided by formal networks, but a considerable part can also be offered by informal networks of older people themselves. Going beyond these networks, older people can additionally and perhaps even more substantially benefit from vital communities. Nevertheless, even though this term is increasingly common in the literature, its meaning remains indistinct. A more thorough understanding of this concept might provide valuable knowledge that health care professionals, researchers and community workers can use to offer meaningful and effective support. The purpose of this paper is to draw on existing empirical research on vital communities to build knowledge of the different descriptions and dimensions of the concept. Arksey and O'Malley's scoping review methodology was adopted. Our search, conducted on 23 March 2020 and updated on 06 January 2021, yielded 4433 articles, of which six articles were included in the scoping review. We deduced that the conceptualisation of a vital community is based on three dimensions: the aim of a vital community, the processes behind a vital community and the typical characteristics of a vital community. None of the selected studies have mapped all three dimensions. Nevertheless, we assume that understanding all three matters when vital communities aim to contribute to the quality of life of people ageing in place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number1
Early online date10 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Community networks
  • Vital communities
  • Community
  • Older people
  • Aged
  • Scoping review

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