‘The Elephant on the Table’: Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Home Health Services

  • Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham
  • Sonya Sharma
  • Sonya Grypma
  • Barbara Pesut
  • Richard Sawatzky
  • Dorolen Wolfs
Original Paper


Healthcare services are increasingly being provided in the home. At the same time, these home contexts are changing as global migration has brought unprecedented diversity both in the recipients of care, and home health workers. In this paper, we present findings of a Canadian study that examined the negotiation of religious and ethnic plurality in home health. Qualitative analysis of the data from interviews and observations with 46 participants—clients, administrators, home healthcare workers—revealed how religion is expressed and ‘managed’ in home health services.


Religion Ethnicity Homecare Diversity Ethnography 



We are grateful to the home health staff, administrators, patients and families who generously participated in this study. We also extend thanks to the reviewer for their insightful comments.


This study was funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada (2009–2012; 410-2009-0494).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham
    • 1
  • Sonya Sharma
    • 2
  • Sonya Grypma
    • 1
  • Barbara Pesut
    • 3
  • Richard Sawatzky
    • 1
    • 4
  • Dorolen Wolfs
    • 1
  1. 1.School of NursingTrinity Western UniversityLangleyCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesKingston University LondonSurreyUK
  3. 3.School of NursingUniversity of British Columbia-OkanaganKelownaCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome SciencesProvidence Health CareVancouverCanada

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