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Ethn Health. 2009 Feb;14(1):5-25. doi: 10.1080/13557850802056455.

Older people's experience of proactive welfare rights advice: qualitative study of a South Asian community.

Author information

1
Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. s.m.moffatt@ncl.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Many older people in the UK require means-tested and health-related benefits to supplement low incomes in retirement and pay for additional resources required to cope with ill-health. Ethnic minority older people have lower uptake of welfare services than white older people. This study investigated routes to the service, barriers to claiming and explored the impact of additional financial resources among ethnic minority elders by evaluating a novel welfare rights advice service which facilitated access to state benefit entitlements.

DESIGN:

Qualitative study using data from one-to-one interviews with ethnic minority elders from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK analysed using the Framework method. Participants were recruited to this study from among ethnic minority elders attending a full benefits assessment offered by Newcastle Welfare Rights Service.

RESULTS:

Twenty-two South Asian participants aged between 50 and 81 were interviewed. Nineteen participants were above state retirement age, 15 of whom were on means-tested state benefits. Knowledge of state entitlements was extremely low. Sixteen qualified for non-means-tested health benefits; six qualified for further means-tested state benefits. Additional resources had a considerable impact on participants and their families. Participants could better afford essential items such as food, bills, shoes, clothes and 'one off' payments. Less stress, increased independence and better quality of life were reported. Welfare rights advice also had a positive impact on carers, none of whom knew what they or their relatives were entitled to.

CONCLUSIONS:

As with older people of all backgrounds, facilitating access to state benefit entitlements with appropriate services is an important way of increasing the resources of ethnic minority older people on low incomes and/or in poor health. Such services can also significantly improve quality of life for carers. As the numbers of ethnic minority older people will rise over the next few decades, it is necessary to meet this need with linguistically and culturally appropriate welfare rights services. To do otherwise will exacerbate existing income and health inequalities.

PMID:
19152156
DOI:
10.1080/13557850802056455
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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