Lessons on Effective Engagement with Multicultural Aged Care Communities


As a multicultural social enterprise and champion for health equity and justice, World Wellness Group (WWG) caters for the unique needs of CALD populations. Our clinic sees older people from various cultural backgrounds, with 20% of our service users being older adults aged 65 years and above in 2020-21. Within this older population of clients, we have found that the most pressing issues revolve around housing, mental health, debt, migration, social isolation, and the lack of information about aged care services – many of these issues represent the classic social determinants of health. 

MyAgedCare is the main entry point where older persons aged 65 years or over can access government-funded aged care services in Australia.  Services from My Aged Care include social support, which can impact their mental health and wellbeing, flexible respite to relieve their carers and/or family members from their caring duties, unaccompanied shopping, domestic assistance, personal care, meal preparation, lawn mowing, home modifications in addition to minor home maintenance and repairs. 

In late 2021, WWG was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, through the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council Australia (FECCA), to deliver a multicultural aged care navigation program in Brisbane to address this growing need within our older multicultural population. Called the “Encompass: Multicultural Aged Care Navigation Program”, bilingual and bicultural Aged Care Navigators from Inala Community House, IWAA, and WWG provide one-on-one support to older adults to navigate My Aged Care information and referrals around health care, human services and aged care services, advocacy services, and organise community education sessions for multicultural communities across Southeast Queensland. 

In December 2021, our Navigators at WWG conducted co-design workshops with older members of the Filipino and Chinese communities in Brisbane. The workshops aimed to gain their insight on creating and receiving culturally-appropriate and in-language information about aged care services in Australia, including what types of support they need, where to find aged care information, and how to access aged care services. We also learned about the preferred methods of communication of older members of these communities to inform our communication and information dissemination strategies.  Our findings can be applied to other information dissemination projects. 

Co-Design Findings

From the co-design workshop, we learned that most older members of the Chinese community are already linked in with My Aged Care. They have either recently been assessed for a Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or a Home Care Package (HCP) but have no provider/s yet, or they are already receiving aged care services. With long waiting lists encountered at many aged care services, waiting for a service is a common experience. For those already receiving aged care services, they remarked that the services they receive were of high quality and the support workers were caring. Their only issue is not having the same support worker each time they receive a service.  

On the other hand, we found that most members of the older Filipino community do not know about My Aged Care. One out of the nine participants in the co-design workshop, an 82-year-old female, was receiving services through My Aged Care. Her pathway to care was via a hospitalization, not due to her seeking out aged care services. It was found that most senior Filipinos are strongly independent, which they want to preserve, rather than relying on services.  

What Information They Would Like to Receive

Chinese community workshop participants require information about what to do after they have received their assessment summary or have been approved for a CHSP or HCP package. Looking at our current client work, it is true that older Chinese adults need clear information on what to do after receiving an assessment, as well as support in prioritising which aged care services to access first. 

Given that the majority of older Filipino community members do not know My Aged Care, they would like information about what My Aged Care is, what services are available, and how to plan for their future. This includes encouraging them to register with My Aged Care now so services are already in place for when they need it given the long waiting times. As family is also important in the Filipino culture, it is important they also receive information about carer services, and how accessing My Aged Care will support them in caring for their parents or grandparents.  

With regards to finding aged care providers, Chinese community members shared that marketing materials should say, “Your language, your needs, our services” to highlight that the clients’ cultural and linguistic needs will be met. They noted that having support workers from the same cultural background will support their mental health and wellbeing needs, and not just their physical health and aged care needs. Having bilingual support workers, as well as bilingual Case Coordinators such as our WWG Encompass Navigators, was highly valued. They will be able to speak in their own language, share their cultures and experiences, build trust and rapport, and feel that the worker is on ‘their side’. This is also why having different support workers each time they receive a service is an issue for Chinese community members. Cultural safety was found to be a major issue for elderly Chinese people. 

Where to Find Aged Care Information

As previously mentioned, we also learned about the preferred methods of communication with older community members. In both the Filipino and Chinese communities, they noted it would be helpful to find service information in the form of flyers and brochures in community newspapers, community newsletters, community centres and library noticeboards, and television. Social media, particularly Facebook, is also a large source of information for Filipino community members.  

Data from both communities highlight their friends, neighbours, family members, and for the Chinese community specifically, their religious leaders, as their sources of information. Filipino community members also expressed their interest in helping organise more aged care information sessions for their friends, neighbours, and family members. They found the co-design workshop, which was done in conjunction with a brief information session about nursing services, to be helpful. It is also a way for them to come together and socialise. 

Chinese community members also noted that information stalls in shopping centres, where they can briefly chat with a Navigator in their own language, may help them to understand the aged care process more. 

The Chinese participants shared they never received information from government websites and other official channels. Low computer literacy and language barriers hinder them from accessing such means of communication, so they rely on their family members to relay any relevant information from the government. 

How to Access Aged Care Services

Our WWG Navigators are working to provide in-language aged care resources and information fact sheets to our Filipino and Chinese communities. If you are from these communities, please get in touch. 

If you, or anyone you know, are from a multicultural background and would like support in accessing aged care services, please email agedcarenavigation@worldwellnessgroup.org.au or fill out our referral form.  

For more information, visit https://worldwellnessgroup.org.au/encompass/ 

You can also call MyAgedCare on 1800 200 422

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