A ‘one size fits all’ approach to dementia care is failing Glaswegians from ethnic minority backgrounds, campaigners have warned.
Alzheimer’s Scotland have called for more research into the barriers that prevent Black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups from accessing vital services.
Accurate figures on the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds living with dementia is not currently available, but NHS Scotland estimates that prevalence rates are similar to the general population – and are expected to rise significantly as the population ages.
Amy Dalrymple, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Scotland, told the Evening Times that training for people working in dementia services should be “culturally competent, sensitive and work with people as they are in a person-centred way which takes into account their ethnic background, language and religion.”
She said: “Alzheimer’s Scotland advocates person-centred care which means that one size doesn’t fit all and that’s whether people are from a black and minority ethnic background or not.”
Shabir Banday, director of the Reach Community Health Project in Govanhill who work with people living with dementia and their families, urges existing service providers to engage with people not coming forward for help.
He said: “You have to have provisions within the current systems and these should be monitored to see who is accessing the services.
“There should be proper awareness training with the staff and better engagement with the communities.”
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said dementia care needed to take into consideration specific challenges faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) communities including family structures and faith issues. He said: “There’s a real sensitivity in BME families around who cares for their loved ones and where they receive that care.
“As the population ages I think there will be an increasing demand for more sheltered home settings where there can be a cultural and religious sensitivity added.
“At the moment we have a drive towards universal wraparound care rather than looking at different cultures and backgrounds.That needs to change.
Ms Dalrymple added: “Research into what the needs are and if those needs are currently being addressed and if they’re not what needs to change to make sure they are. There’s a need for more personalised, better resourced support for people with dementia across Scotland.
“We need to make sure that everybody who has dementia receives the care they need that responds to their own experiences and circumstances.”
Professor June Andrews, a former nurse and dementia expert, said the barriers faced by ethnic minorities represented a “double jeopardy”.
“Families did not know about services that exist, and most services in any case were provided by people who did not share the language or culture of the family,” she said. “After listening and reflection … we reached out to the communities themselves to support them in learning how to navigate their own way through what was already available, and how to ask for different services that actually met their needs. “
The Scottish Government said they are working with partners to progress a national programme that supports adult social care reform and considering how to tackle access to care. such as language skills and cultural awareness.
Written by: Rohese Devereux Taylor