Health and social care needs of Somali refugees with visual impairment (VIP) living in the United Kingdom: a focused ethnography with Somali people with VIP, their caregivers, service providers, and members of the Horn of Africa Blind Society

Gina M A Higginbottom, Kaltum Rivers, Robin Story
Journal of Transcultural Nursing: Official Journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society 2014, 25 (2): 192-201

PURPOSE: To explore the health and social care needs of Somali refugees with visual impairment (VIP).

DESIGN: We conducted a three-phased focused ethnography in collaboration with the Horn of Africa Blind Society (HABS) through all stages from research design to findings dissemination.

METHOD: Engaging in participatory research, HABS members (n = 26), service providers (n = 10), and two Somali community groups (n = 8 and n = 7) whose members were sighted (Phase 1) took part in four focus group interviews. Phases 2 and 3 consisted of interviews with Somali refugees with VIP (n = 32) and their informal carers (n = 5). We used framework data analysis methodology.

FINDINGS: Four major themes emerged: (1) sociocultural perceptions of blindness and visual impairment, (2) access to services, (3) isolation and insecurity, and (4) mobility.

CONCLUSION: Somali people with VIP experience profound unmet social and health care needs related largely to social support, awareness of mobility options, and the stigmatization of visual impairment. Appropriate community outreach may improve access to services and quality of life for Somali people with VIP. Tailored information is needed to increase awareness of mobility and security services. Significant considerations exist when planning discharge from acute care settings to ensure continuity of support.

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