Immigrant women family caregivers in Canada: implications for policies and programmes in health and social sectors

Health Soc Care Community. 2006 Jul;14(4):329-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2006.00627.x.


Migration has become a profound global phenomenon in this century. In Canada, uncoordinated policies, including those related to immigration, resettlement, employment, and government funding for health and social services, present barriers to immigrant women caregivers. The purpose of this paper is to share relevant insights from individual and group interviews with immigrant women family caregivers, service providers and policy influencers, and discuss these in relation to immigration, health and social policy, and programme trends in Canada. The present authors conducted individual interviews with immigrant women family caregivers (n = 29) in phase 1, followed by two group interviews with women family caregivers (n = 7), and two group interviews with service providers and policy-makers (n = 15) in phase 2. Using an inductive approach, the authors employed thematic content data analysis. Immigrant women experienced barriers to health and social services similar to Canadian-born family caregivers, particularly those who have low incomes, jobs with limited flexibility and heavy caregiving demands. These immigrant women family caregivers avoided certain formal services for a variety of reasons, including lack of cultural sensitivity. However, their challenges were compounded by language, immigration and separation from family in the home country. The identified barriers to support reinforce the importance of modifying and expanding policies and programmes affecting immigrant women's ability to care for family members with illnesses or disabilities within the context of Canadian society. Participants recommended changes to policies and programmes to deal with information, transportation, language, attitudinal and network barriers. The various barriers to services and programmes which were experienced by immigrant women caregivers underscore the importance of reviewing policies affecting immigration, caregiving, and access to health and social services. Intersectoral collaboration among agencies is essential to reduce the barriers identified in the present study, and to establish services which are linguistically and culturally appropriate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian People
  • Canada
  • Caregivers*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Social Work / organization & administration*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women*