South Asian Communities to Receive Tailored Dementia Support


New Initiative Will Provide Families With More Information

A new initiative which aims to provide South Asian families and the wider community with culturally-tailored information about dementia has been launched by Alzheimer’s Society.

This comes as part of the charity’s response to research predicting a seven-fold increase in the number of people with dementia from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities by 2051.

The information programme for South Asian families is being funded by Lloyds Banking Group as part of its Live Well charity of the year campaign. It aims to improve the lives of people affected by dementia by equipping carers with skills, knowledge and understanding reflective of their cultural needs. The service is currently being piloted in Enfield, Coventry, Leicester, Bradford and Rochdale, with plans to roll it out to a further 15 locations in 2014.

It is estimated there are almost 25,000 people with dementia from BAME communities in England and Wales.* This number is expected to grow to nearly 50,000 by 2026 and 172,000 by 2051, which is nearly a seven-fold increase in forty years. This compares to just a two-fold increase in the number of people across the whole UK population in the same time period. In particular, the number of people over 65 who are originally from South Asia is due to rise sharply, partly due to the number of individuals that moved to the UK between the 1950s and 1970s (Lievesley, 2010).

People from BAME communities are more likely to develop early onset dementia and may present a higher prevalence of vascular dementia than their white British counterparts. They also tend to access dementia services later, which can have a negative impact on families as they may have struggled for longer without support. 

When people from BAME communities do access dementia services, they often find that activities bear little relevance to their own culture. Alzheimer’s Society’s new initiative for South Asian Families aims to combat this issue alongside other BAME services the charity provides, such as culturally-tailored Singing for the Brain sessions and peer support groups. 

This programme compromises a series of face-to-face sessions delivered by trained staff in collaboration with community and faith organisations, providing interpretation services where required and an educational DVD to take home and share with other family members.

Diana Barbosa, Programme Development Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘A diagnosis of dementia can be a scary and confusing experience, yet cultural elements such as language and families’ close-knit bonds can make it harder for South Asian families to reach out and get information and advice. Many people don’t know there’s support available to them; let alone how to access it. The programme provides much needed guidance and help towards understanding dementia and knowing how to reach for support at the right time.’

Kamel Hothi, Head of Responsible Business Projects at Lloyds Banking Group, who was the architect of the Asian strategy across Lloyds Banking Group, said ‘As part of the Live Well campaign, we are targeting South Asian communities specifically because they are the largest non-white ethnic group in the UK and cultural differences can make it harder for carers to reach out. Often families access support much later in the day, when symptoms of dementia have progressed and this puts much more strain on carers. We are delighted that a proportion of the money raised by our colleagues and customers from our charity of the year partnership will fund the Live Well programme for South Asian families and help improve quality of life for people affected by dementia.’


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