This study aimed to identify the structural couplings of the Long Term Elderly Care Institution with the societal system, observing communications and resonances in the institution. This is a descriptive, exploratory, and qualitative study which uses the Niklas Luhmann functional method. The data was collected between may, 2004 and january, 2005, utilizing second order observations through interviewing seven management employees, and third order observations analyzing the communications of 52 non-profit public and private Brazilian institutions. There is stagnation of a negative image surrounding these institutions, related to exclusion and abandonment. The institutions acknowledge their historical image and they propose movements of change from this view. Acknowledgment of the gradual development of actions that may amplify the relationship with the community and consequently contribute toward an updated conception about them is necessary.
Homes for the aged; Aged; Aging; Systems theory