27 August 2019
In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton writes about the value of ethnic diversity in our society and how common bonds can be found and strengthened
“Ethnicity should enrich us; it should make us a unique people in our diversity and not be used to divide us.”
This quote comes from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia and Nobel Prize winner who became the first female head of state in Africa when she was elected in 2006. It’s a sentiment that I would like to think most people in multicultural Britain could agree with – there is no doubt that welcoming people from all over the world to our country has brought huge benefits to the UK in terms of everything, from our industries to our cuisines.
Ethnic diversity within care and support
Promedica24, in common with all of the care providers I’ve worked with, have an ethnically diverse staff team, with frontline care workers of many different nationalities. This was true when my father needed care over 7 years ago too, with African and Asian care workers who, to this day, I still remember and many of whom I remain in touch with as friends.
Increasingly the care providers I work with, including Promedica24, are also beginning to support people from diverse ethnicities too. For many years it was a taboo within some ethnic communities to seek care and support for an elderly or disabled relative, with a belief that the only option for families was to look after their own relatives, but thankfully that has changed in recent years.
I say thankfully because every family, regardless of their ethnicity, should feel that care and support in all of its guises is a potential option for them. The idea that family carers just soldier on regardless isn’t realistic when they may have numerous competing priorities in their lives including bringing up children, the need to work to pay a mortgage, or health problems of their own.
‘From Seldom Heard to Seen and Heard’
Highlighting all of these issues and many more is something that the National Dementia Action Alliance’s ‘From Seldom Heard to Seen and Heard’ campaign has done particularly well. This wide-reaching campaign has focused on drawing attention to the needs of people from African Caribbean and South Asian communities alongside other seldom heard groups defined as: gypsies and travellers, Irish people, people with learning disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender+ communities, the prison population, people living in social deprivation, and people who develop young onset dementia.
Like Promedica24, I am a National Dementia Action Alliance member, and from when the seed was first sown for this campaign through to its work post-launch I have supported it as a great mechanism for highlighting what these different communities need when a person within them is living with dementia.
Some of the issues this campaign has identified for African Caribbean and South Asian communities include: language barriers, difficulties around cultural understanding, problems ensuring that cultural preferences are upheld, awareness and education around the needs of people from these ethnicities, difficulties remaining connected to or practicing religious or faith preferences, racism and discrimination, problems accessing services, and challenges around how the socio-economic background and dietary preferences of some ethnic communities may make developing dementia more likely.
Celebrating ethnic diversity in the future
Overcoming these issues requires joint working between ethnic, faith and community leaders and health and care providers to understand the challenges, identify where services aren’t meeting the needs of ethnic communities, and make changes to ensure that the support offered to people of all ethnicities is responsive, appropriate, high quality and ultimately celebrates our diversity to truly capture the spirit of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s words.
About the author:
Beth Britton is a leading campaigner, consultant, writer and blogger whose father had vascular dementia for 19 years. Beth is also a Skills for Care Endorsed Training Provider. More information on Beth’s website: https://www.bethbritton.com
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