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Retirement migration, the ‘other’ story: caring for frail elderly British citizens in Spain

  • KELLY HALL (a1) and IRENE HARDILL (a2)

Recent years have seen a growth in research on retirement/lifestyle migration to Spain, however this has tended to focus on the reasons for moving, as well as the lifestyles adopted as part of a healthy and active retirement. However, ageing in Spain can bring challenges as a person's resources for independent living diminish. This paper draws on narrative interviews with vulnerable older British people in Spain, focusing on those who have encountered a severe decline in health, are frail and in need of care. It looks at the formal and informal networks and agencies that support these individuals, in particular the resources and strategies they employ to access care. Drawing on a framework of care provision developed by Glucksmann and Lyons, four broad modes of provision for old age care used by older British people in Spain are identified: state/public, family/community, voluntary/not-for-profit and market/for-profit. The paper argues that there are language, cultural, spatial and financial barriers when accessing care in Spain as an older British citizen. It is concluded that there are some frail, vulnerable people that may fall through a support gap, whereby they are no longer the responsibility of UK welfare services, yet not fully recognised in their new country of residence, and asks if more should be done to support this population.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Addresss for correspondence: Kelly Hall, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham, Muirhead Tower, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK E-mail:
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