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“Care from the heart”: older minoritised women's perceptions of dignity in care

Roiyah Saltus (Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, UK)
Christalla Pithara (Healthcare Management Programme, Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



Drawing findings from a large mixed-method study on perceptions of dignity, care expectations, and support in relation to older women from Black and minority-ethnic backgrounds, the purpose of this paper is to explore the interrelationships between life course events and the multiple roles adopted by women at different points in time that have shaped their perceptions of care and their care expectations in old age.


In total, 32 semi-structured interviews were undertaken, allowing for the collection of data on the participants’ understanding of growing old, and the meaning and attributes of care and what care with dignity “looked and felt like”. The theoretical framework is guided by a life-course approach and grounded within an intersectionality perspective. The majority of the participants were migrants.


Social markers such as ethnicity and cultural identity were found to influence the participants’ understanding and expectations of care with factors such as gender identity and integration in the local community also of importance. How women felt they were perceived and “recognised” by others in their everyday lives with particular focus at the time of old age with the increased potential of loss of dignity due to declining capabilities, raised the importance of the family involvement in care provision, and perceived differences in the attributes of paid and non-paid care. The notion of “care from the heart” emerged as a key attribute of care with dignity. Care with dignity was understood as a purposeful activity, undertaken with intent to show respect and to acknowledge the participants’ sense of worth and value.

Practical implications

The implications of this study are relevant in the current debate taking place at the EU level about the lived experiences of ageing migrant groups and care expectations.


The study highlights the importance of the social nature of dignity, how wider societal structures can impact and shape how care is understood for older women of migrant and minoritised backgrounds, and the need to explore migration and care across the life course.



This research has received ethical approval from the University of South Wales. The authors are very grateful to all those who took part in the study. In particular, the authors would like to thank the older people who generously gave their time to be interviewed. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the community researchers Pauline Andam, Tue Hong Baker, Jasmin Chowdhury, Wendy Low and Leanne Taylor. The authors also acknowledge Martin Jones and Older Minority Ethnic Network (OMEN), Age Cymru who provided an ongoing steer to the study. Acknowledgements go to Christine Bennett and Patricia Millard for transcribing most of the interviews. This study was funded by Welsh Government National Institute of Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR).


Saltus, R. and Pithara, C. (2015), "“Care from the heart”: older minoritised women's perceptions of dignity in care", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 57-70.



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