Ethical and cultural striving: Lived experiences of minority nurses in dementia care

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Nursing workforce in Western European health institutions has become more diverse because of immigration and recruitment from Asian, African, and East-European countries. Minority healthcare providers may experience communication problems in interaction with patients and coworkers, and they are likely to experience conflict or uncertainty when confronted with different cultural traditions and values. Persons with dementia are a vulnerable group, and the consequences of their illness challenge the ability to understand and express oneself verbally. The large number of minority healthcare providers in nursing homes underlines the importance to obtain better knowledge about this group’s experiences with the care challenges in dementia care units.

Research question:

Can you tell about any challenges in the experiences in the encounter with persons suffering from dementia?

Participants and research context:

Five minority healthcare providers in a nursing home, in a dementia unit. All guidelines for research ethic were followed.

Ethical consideration:

The participants were informed that participation was voluntary, and they were guarantied anonymity.


We used a qualitative method, conducting individual interviews, using a narrative approach. In the analysis, we applied a phenomenological–hermeneutical method, developed for researching life experiences.


One theme and four subthemes: striving to understand the quality of care for persons with dementia. The subthemes: sensitivity to understand the patients’ verbal and nonverbal expressions. To understand gratefulness, understand the patient as an adult and autonomous person, and understand the patient as a patient in a nursing home. Challenges comprise both ethical and cultural striving to understand persons with dementia.


To care for persons with dementia in an unfamiliar context may be understood as a striving for acting ethically, when at the same time striving to adapt and acculturate to new cultural norms, in order to practice good dementia care.

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