Understanding dignity and care: An exploratory qualitative study on the views of older people of African and African-Caribbean descent

Roiyah Saltus, Elizabeth Folkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on a qualitative exploratory study conducted in Wales to explore what dignity and care mean from the perspectives of men and women aged 50 years and older who self-identified as being either African-Caribbean/West Indian, or Black Welsh (third- or fourth-generation, with links to Africa or the Caribbean).

Design/methodology/approach – Twenty-one semi-structured interviews were undertaken, allowing for the collection of data on the participants' understanding of dignity (what it is, and what it “looks and feels like”) and of care.

Findings – Dignity and respect for older people are revealed to be key aspects of the participants' personal value systems. The notion of care is understood as “caring about” and is seen to be a key indicator of dignity. Moreover, both care and dignity were understood and, for many of the participants, were both conceptualised on a personal basis and shaped by a sense of identity that was, in part and to varying extents, communally mediated and rooted in a cultural collectivistic value orientation. The findings also reveal the intersections of care and minority ethnicity, and how – to varying extents – these intersections shape the participants' perceptions of how they are recognised and acknowledged in encounters where dignity is especially important, such as in the receiving of care. With these perceptions come various levels of engagement, avoidance or acceptance of the need for extra care or support.

Originality/value – Exploratory in nature, this study investigates the importance of paying attention to the impact that cultural and ethnic identity (and accompanying belief systems) may have on how notions of dignity and of care (both personal and communally mediated) are understood. It seeks to contribute to the body of evidence on ways of working with “seldom-heard” groups and the importance of building trust and establishing long-term, community-based research networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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