An Ambiguous Sense of Professional Identity: Community-Based Caregivers for Older Adults in China

Honglin Chen, Hui Yang, Priscilla Song, Lu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Community-based caregivers form an important part of the long-term care system in China. Rather than institutionalization in residential facilities, the majority of older adults in China continue to live with their families and in their communities; ageing-in-place is the norm. The services provided by community-based caregivers thus play a crucial role in shaping the quality of life for older adults in China. Yet this population of caregivers has been understudied, with most researchers and policymakers focusing instead on familial or institutional care providers. Our qualitative study addresses this gap by examining the experiences of community-based eldercare providers in urban Shanghai, one of the most rapidly-aging cities in China. Over 25 h of semi-structured, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted among 20 community-based caregivers. Our study revealed important demographic characteristics and trends in the experiences of this understudied population of caregivers, who were often confused about their jobs and demonstrated an ambiguous sense of professional identity. We provide a typology of the main factors influencing the experiences of community-based caregivers for older adults. This typology enables us to provide targeted suggestions to improve the work experiences and develop the sense of professional identity among community-based caregivers. We also present suggestions for strengthening the long-term care system for older adults in urban China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-250
Number of pages15
JournalAgeing International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)


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