Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 2015
National surveys show that people from minority ethnic groups tend to be less satisfied with social care services compared with the white population, but do not show why. Research indicates that barriers to accessing services include lack of information, perceptions of cultural inappropriateness and normative expectations of care. Less research has examined the experience of minority ethnic service users after they access services. This study conducted in-depth interviews with 82 South Asian and White British service users and family carers, the majority of whom were older people. Thematic analysis was used. The key theme was understanding the social care system. Participants with a good understanding of the system were more able to adapt and achieve control over their care. Participants with a poor understanding were uncertain about how to access further care, or why a service had been refused. More White British than South Asian participants had a good understanding of the system. There was more in common between the South Asian and White British participants' experiences than might have been expected. Language was an important facilitator of care for South Asian participants, but ethnic matching with staff was less important. Recommendations include better communication throughout the care process to ensure service users and carers have a clear understanding of social care services and hence a better experience.