People with Specific Needs

Tips for Nurses:
People with Specific Needs

What it is: Some people may have specific care needs related to their cultural or linguistic (language) background, sexuality, religious or faith beliefs, life circumstance or location. People may identify with one or more of these attributes.

Why it matters: Culture is not just about language, ethnicity or nationality. It is also about identity and relationships, and shared (sometimes painful) experiences. The Australian Government’s Aged Care Diversity Framework provides the mechanism for aged care service providers to ensure that the services provided meet the diverse needs of older people. It complements the Single Quality Framework.

What I need to know: Events early in life may significantly affect health and wellbeing in later life. Understanding the person’s circumstances is an important part of person-centred care.

Recognised specific groups in aged care include people who:

  • are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
  • live in rural or remote areas
  • are financially or socially disadvantaged
  • are veterans of the Australian Defence Force or an allied defence force and their spouse, widow or widower
  • are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless
  • are care leavers (people who spent time in care as a child, Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and Stolen Generations)
  • as parents were separated from their children by forced adoption or removal
  • identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/transgender or intersex (LGBTI)
  • have a disability
  • are refugees or asylum seekers
  • are prisoners.

It is important to be aware of people’s privacy and know who you may share information with.



Everyone is a unique person with their own life and life story. Some issues are complex, you may or may not be able to help them. If you have concerns talk with the person’s GP or other specialist including allied health.

Provide information in an appropriate format and form (online/hardcopy/verbal) and in a language the older person and their family understands.

Be aware of your organisation’s policy on privacy and confidentiality.



Tools that may be useful include:

Visit Talking End of Life with people with disability (TEL)

palliAGED Community Centre has a Diversity section with relevant resources in more than 50 languages.

The Aged Care Diversity Framework provides guidance on how the common barriers which prevent people accessing the aged care services they need can be remedied.


My reflections:


When meeting someone I will be caring for, how do I respectfully understand their specific needs?


Sometimes in caring for people we learn things about them which do not affect their care. How can I respect their care yet address things that I have learnt that are of concern?


What does my organisation’s policy on privacy and confidentiality mean for me?


For references and the latest version of all the Tip Sheets visit


CareSearch is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. Updated April 2022

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