We recently ran a Share and Learn session for carers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to share their experiences and challenges as carers. The session was led by Zehra Haq, CEO of Dhek Bhal (a community-based charity that provides a range of culturally responsive services to meet the identified needs of South Asian people living in Bristol, including carers and the elderly). There were also a few representatives from black carers support groups based in Birmingham and London. The discussion was both insightful and informative, and revealed the unique challenges BAME carers face and how much more needs to be done. Below are a few notes we jotted down from the session. We hope to run another Shae and Learn for BAME carers in a few months. In the meantime, it would be helpful to know whether any forum members from BAME background can identify with any of the discussion points below or have any comments.
In Zehra’s experience, some assumptions are made within BAME communities (e.g. people may assume that older people have extended family support, but their children may have moved away for education and work).
Many people from South Asian communities reject the term carer and just want to be known as a wife/husband/daughter etc. - however, to get the support they need, they may need to talk of themselves as being carers when meeting with health and social care professionals
Some carers may be accused of leaving their mother on her own if they arrange for care workers to provide support
Language and cultural barriers persist
People from different cultural backgrounds are not ‘hard to reach’ but efforts need to be made to connect with them through community and faith groups
Some carers who already have a BAME identity in the workplace may not want to take on the additional identity of being a carer
BAME carers need to be assertive when dealing with authorities, but this can be difficult if English is their second language or they are newly arrived in the UK
Not everyone is literate in their own language and communications therefore need to have more visual images and videos
Some people may have speech impediments when speaking their own language
Health and social care professionals, as well as commissioners, need training in understanding different cultural groups and need to do their homework before visiting a family
Several carers said that interpreters sometimes put their own spin on what is being said (e.g. in a GP appointment or at a Carer’s Assessment), which means that the professional does not hear exactly what was intended to be said - interpreters therefore need training in conducting such meetings
When approaching your employer to discuss your caring responsibilities, it’s important to have a plan for the kind of support you would like before going into the meeting
As well as talking about the challenges facing BAME carers, it’s also important that we implement initiatives to support BAME carers and that there is accountability for making sure this support is provided