Neighbourhood-focused Care and Older Migrants

by Hanna Murray-Carlsson

In the project Diversity in Elderly Care, dr. Roos Pijpers and Eniec member Hanna Carlsson are researching how neighbourhood-focused work influences how older migrants gain access to care. The policy of neighborhood-focused work is based on the assumption that services are more accessible if they are geographically close. We recently published our first findings about the impact of neighbourhood focused work on older migrants in Nijmegen in the Dutch-language Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics.. We found that services can feel far away for older migrants, even though they are right in the neighbourhood. In Nijmegen, care and welfare services reach older migrants because professionals bridge the mental distance by building good relationships with older migrants. For the same reason, many older migrants also travel to culturally specific day care centres, rather than visiting day care in their own neighbourhood.

The municipality of Nijmegen supports culturally specific services and activities that are successful in attracting older migrants, even when they do not fit in the frame of neighbourhood focused working. However, the municipality does not monitor agreements with other providers about cultural sensitivity. Shifting from target groups [a minority group approach?] to a neighbourhood-focused approach does in theory require all care and welfare workers to be able to work with cultural sensitivity. However, professionals with a migrant background are still given a large responsibility for older migrants from the same background. A recent effort to overcome the issue of overburdening and lack of accessibility, is a pool which bundles the knowledge of professionals and volunteers from various cultural backgrounds who act as intercultural consultants. To prevent too great a claim on professionals with a migration background, we further recommend that agreements between the city of Nijmegen and local providers to enhance cultural sensitivity should be better monitored.