Factors that contribute to the levels of satisfaction with social care for physical disabilities amongst Chinese service users

Fiona Irvine Completed   2013


People from black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in England have lower levels of satisfaction with adult social care services; they have less contact with services, experience prejudice and suffer from a lack of information about services. However, there is limited research on physically disabled people; and most BAME research focuses on the experiences of people of larger minority groups such as those from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. There is some evidence that organisations have found it difficult to meet the needs of people from BAME groups but no research has focused on the needs of people with physical impairments who are from Chinese backgrounds.


The aim of this study was to understand how to improve social care services for physically disabled people from Chinese backgrounds in England. It explored people’s experiences of social care and examined how cultural nuances shaped their expectations.


People from Chinese backgrounds and who received social care services for their physical disabilities were asked about their experiences and perceptions of social care. The project began with individual semi-structured interviews; the initial findings from these were taken back to focus groups to validate and clarify interpretation of participants’ experiences.

The final stage of the study involved a ‘world cafe’ where stakeholders including service users, carers, and representatives from the Chinese communities, social care commissioners and practitioners were invited to think together and innovate corroboratively to open up new visions and solutions.


  • People from Chinese backgrounds highlighted the importance of social care that values the individual and respects cultural diversity. Their satisfaction with services seemed particularly shaped by experiences of accessing services, the attitudes displayed by care workers, the cultural and linguistic sensitivity of services, and the ease of access to information about services.
  • Participants reported that most care providers do not speak Chinese and do not offer Chinese written materials. This seemed to have a profound effect on satisfaction.
  • Poor understanding of social care terminology could lead to a situation where some people from Chinese backgrounds failed to take up social care services and became self-reliant or resigned to having no support. Sometimes this was to the detriment of their well-being, where, in the words of one participant, they were required to ‘muddle along’, which sometimes led to a crisis.
  • Respondents generally did not have high expectations of social care services and some did not know what services to expect. For some, these limited expectations resulted in high levels of satisfaction if a service was offered but for others it meant disengagement from services.
  • Some participants described the complicated processes they had followed when accessing social care support and in some cases people had reached a desperate situation such as hospital admission before receiving input. Chinese welfare organisations often played an important part in facilitating access to services and also helped people through signposting, brokering, where they negotiated services for the individual, or by offering culturally sensitive social care services. The Chinese welfare organisations that were mentioned received some of their funding from the local council but also relied on donations and fund raising.
Chinese voices of social care: satisfaction with social care for physical disabilities among people from Chinese backgrounds
( https://www.sscr.nihr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/SSCR-research-findings_RF027.pdf )
Pubs page