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Who cares about minority ethnic carers?

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Who cares about minority ethnic carers?

RACE EQUALITY FOUNDATION Logo

Published by traceybignall for Race Equality Foundation in Health and also in Communities, Housing, Local Government

Who cares about minority ethnic carers?

 

We are living in a time of constant change bringing with it opportunities and challenges.  The role of carers has been highlighted in the current health proposals. Whilst it is early days within this changing health agenda, any positive impact on carers from black and minority ethnic communities is questionable given their consistent disadvantage within the carers population.

 

The increase in life expectancy and survival rates of those living with impairments is expected to result in an increase in the number of carers in the next twenty years.  We are aware of research that highlights the cost of caring to individuals in terms of the impact on their employment, education, health and social well being.  Having a ‘carers’ role is therefore demanding and very complex.  Whilst the need for assessment and support to carers has been raised and should be addressed through a local authority duty (under the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act, 2004), evidence still suggests that black and minority ethnic carers are more likely to be marginalised and excluded from mainstream support as a result of issues such as access, communication, culturally inappropriateness, and assumptions of expected informal caring, amongst others. Yet carers from black and minority ethnic communities are most likely to be socially and economically deprived; more affected by poverty, poor health and overcrowding and living in unsuitable accommodation.   These are some mainly areas of concern raised by Claire Gregory in her Better Health briefing on Improving health and social care support for carers from black and minority ethnic communities[i], published by the Race Equality Foundation.

 

The White paper has raised the profile of carers where the commitment to better outcomes is noted throughout and the focus on personalised care for patients also necessitating greater involvement and support for carers.  However, research on services user involvement still notes the under-representation of black and minority ethnic communities within the health sector. 

 

Gregory highlights the lack of recognition of the specific needs of black and minority ethnic carers.  Importantly that there remains low take up of support within mainstream services, and worryingly a lack of awareness of the support needs of carers from groups such as those with learning disabilities.   Whilst support provided by black and minority ethnic voluntary organisations has high participation and involvement from carers, the financial challenges in particular, make it difficult for such organisations to be sustained.    This will impact on the services and support they can provide.  It is likely that infrastructure support could help black-led organisations to promote race equality by having a strategic role in ensuring the health and social care needs of carers from these communities are addressed.  But at present, Gregory suggests a commitment from local authorities to strategic planning that addresses the needs of black and minority ethnic carers must be mainstreamed and, is integral to ensure these carers receive the appropriate support.   

 

 

 

 



[i] The Better Health briefing is available at www.better-health.org.uk

 

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