Title: “I Know More News in Hong-Kong Rather Than in the UK”: Exploring Older Chinese Immigrants’ Social Isolation in the UK
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Chao Fang, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Living in a foreign country whilst ageing can be challenging. Research has suggested that older immigrants are likely to confront ‘double isolation’ – the experience of being alienated by both the host and home countries. With globalisation progressing and the population ageing having long since become a universal social problem, it is of a particular importance to better understand older immigrants’ experiences and needs when facing isolation in their ongoing lives. This paper reports on an exploratory qualitative study on the social isolation of older Chinese immigrants living in the UK. Despite an increasing focus on the welfare of ethnic minorities in the UK, the Chinese communities remain ‘invisible’, further compounding the isolation issues for those older in the communities. Based on an inductive thematic analysis of interviews with eight older Chinese people and three support practitioners, we identified four key themes to capture the dynamics of older Chinese immigrants’ circumstances for, experiences of and responses to social isolation: 1) living in a closed social world, 2) feeling foreign and isolated in British society, 3) retaining social connectedness and 4) existing gaps in providing culturally-competent and person-centred support. Our findings have highlighted that not all older Chinese immigrants in the UK felt isolated because of support within their family and local Chinese communities. However, it is important to more adequately acknowledge and support these older Chinese people’s needs and values regarding social isolation from their own perspectives.
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