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Exploring health care workers’ perceptions and experiences of communication with ethnic minority elders

Gloria Likupe (Nursing, University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Carol Baxter (Imperial College London, London, UK)
Mohamed Jogi (NHS Employers, Leeds, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 4 July 2018

Issue publication date: 8 November 2018




There is a recognition in Europe and in the western world of a demographic shift in the ageing population. While the overall ageing of the general population is growing, the numbers of immigrants getting old in their host countries is also increasing, thereby increasing the racial and ethnic proportion of older people in these countries. This changing landscape calls for understanding of issues related to health care provision, policy and research regarding ethnic minorities. Communication is seen as a key factor in understanding the needs of ethnic minority elders (EMEs). The purpose of this paper is to explore health care workers’ (HCWs) perceptions and experiences of communication with EMEs. In this paper the term HCW includes qualified nurses and health care assistants.


A descriptive qualitative study design using semi-structured interviews was employed. Ten HCWs, who had ethnic minorities in their care were individually interviewed to explore their perceptions and experiences of communication when caring for EMEs.


Analysis of data revealed that in common with all older people, EMEs experience stereotyped attitudes and difficulties in communication. However, EMEs face particular challenges, including cultural differences, different language and stereotyping of care based on misunderstood needs of EMEs. Facilitators of communication included appropriate training of HCWs and appropriate use of interpreters.

Research limitations/implications

Only homes willing to take part in the study gave permission for their staff to be interviewed. In addition, the HCWs came from various settings. Therefore, views of staff in homes who did not give permission may not be represented.

Practical implications

The diversity of older people needing care in nursing homes and the community calls for training in culturally competent communication for effective provision care provision for EMEs.


Training of health care staff in culturally appropriate communication requires effective practice.



Likupe, G., Baxter, C. and Jogi, M. (2018), "Exploring health care workers’ perceptions and experiences of communication with ethnic minority elders", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 180-190.



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