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Challenges related to the provision of intercultural care and support

2020: Policy briefing on intercultural care and support

Information about dementia and services: materials are culturally biased and not suited to the language, level of education, belief system and values of many people from minority ethnic groups. 

Culturally biased dissemination of information: people are not “difficult to reach” if appropriate channels of communication and methods are used. They may, however, be “easy to avoid”.

Stigma and shame: this is more common in some communities and is often linked not only to the person with dementia but also to the direct and wider family. Sometimes, it is linked to religious beliefs; sometimes it is because of negative connotations surrounding terms for dementia or the link to mental disorders, which may result in prejudice and discrimination.

The belief that “they look after their own” and do not want support: such statements fuel stigma and prejudice, and make it difficult for people who do want support to seek and obtain it. Families that don't use residential care services often care for their relatives at home without sufficient support.

People with dementia from minority ethnic groups are absent from research: their needs, values and interests are therefore not being considered in healthcare research which will eventually influence service development.

Failure to reach carers: in some ethnic groups there is often a male spokesperson for the family but the care is provided by one or more women. Gender issues need to be considered but without judging.

Insufficient focus on religion and spirituality: fulfilling care duties is often linked to fulfilling religious and cultural obligations. This can be a source of inspiration and pride but also make family carers reluctant to ask for support.

Multiple jeopardy: carers of people with dementia from minority ethnic groups may have combined challenges linked to the stigma of dementia and to actual or perceived racism, sexism, ageism, prejudice against migrants, health literacy and lower socio-economic status.  

Prior experience or the expectation of discrimination and prejudice, and prior experience of poor quality care: this may hamper help-seeking.

Lack of cultural competence of health and social care professionals: lack of cultural competence, language difficulties and lack of culturally appropriate and validated tools may result in late or wrong diagnosis of people with dementia from minority ethnic groups and to inappropriate treatment and care.

“We didn’t know about dementia or that there was any help to get… we thought we had to manage on our own.” (Mohammed, 45-year-old son of a woman with Alzheimer’s dementia)



Last Updated: Monday 21 September 2020