Support networks for Chinese older immigrants accessing English health and social care services: the concept of Bridge People

Xiayang Liu, Glenda Cook, Mima Cattan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


As Chinese immigrants in the United Kingdom age, they experience an increasing need to access health and care services. It has, however, been reported that older Chinese immigrants have difficulties in accessing these services. This study explored the experiences of this population in using health and care services and the strategies that they adopted to address their difficulties. A grounded theory method with a two-staged research design was used. Stage 1 explored the participants’ experiences of ageing and use of health and social care services through focus group interviews. Stage 2 investigated the strategies individuals used to support access to and use of services through individual interviews. Forty-four older Chinese people and 15 supporters participated in interviews during August 2011 and May 2013. These older Chinese immigrants were challenged in knowing about and in accessing services. Their difficulties were attributed to language barriers, lack of information and instrumental support, and emotional and cultural issues regarding use of health and care services. Their supporters facilitated access to services and acted as a bridge between the service and the user; therefore, they were given the title ‘Bridge People’. Bridge People have different backgrounds: family and friends, public sector workers and staff from community-based Chinese organisations. The defining attributes of these supporters were: bilinguality, bicultural, multifunctionality and accessibility. There is no charge for this support; and the relationship between the Bridge Person and recipient involves trust and influence over decisions regarding use of health and care services. Bridge People should be recognised and identified by health, social care and housing services to promote engagement and use of services by older immigrant Chinese people.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
Early online date17 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2016


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