Getting it right:
Assessments for black and minority ethnic carers and service users

Activity: Cultural myths and stereotypes part two

Introduction

You should consider whether you agree with the statement “Our Service is Open to Everyone”, and if so, why. If you think the statement is untrue, why do you think this?

Ensuring that all sections of the community have equal access to services means that no-one is disadvantaged or treated less favourably because of their ethnicity, colour, national origin, age, gender, marital status, faith, disability or sexuality. It does not mean that offering the same service to everyone is the same as ensuring equality of access. Services that do not acknowledge or are not flexible enough to meet a range of diverse needs do not benefit everyone equally.

To proceed in this way is to adopt an essentially ‘colour blind’ approach which does not acknowledge the specific needs of minority ethnic communities. The onus is placed on minority communities to fit within services based on the needs of the majority community. There is little recognition that the way the service is provided may, in fact, be preventing minority ethnic communities from using it. For example, some communities may require single sex provision or have particular dietary requirements.

Question

The assessments carried out for Mr and Mrs Choy identified the need initially for daycare and domiciliary homecare and more latterly, residential care.

Taking any one of these services, what barriers do you think might exist within the service that would need to be addressed by the local authority?

More generally, can you identify any other factors that may limit access to services for minority ethnic carers and service users?

Answer

The vast majority of services provided by the local authority and their health and housing colleagues are based on the needs of the White majority community. In reality this means that many of the services available are both inappropriate and inaccessible to minority ethnic carers and service users.

For example, an individual in a day care or residential care service may be the only minority ethnic user. There may also be no minority ethnic staff. This can lead to the individual feeling very isolated, particularly if they do not speak any English. Their dietary and personal care needs may not be met and the activities provided may be unsuitable. For example, Muslims will require Halal food and access to appropriate washing facilities to perform ‘washing’ rituals before they pray. Similarly, Chinese older people prefer hot food to cold food and hot water or other beverages to cold.

Conclusion

This learning resource does not set out to be prescriptive, rather it provides a blueprint for working with minority ethnic carers, service users and patients. Just as needs will differ in the majority community, this will also be true of minority communities. It is important to remember that everyone has the right to be treated as an individual and for services to be provided on that basis.

What this learning resource does is remind you that the need of minority ethnic carers, service users and patients may be different to other sections of the community with whom you may be working. It will provide you with the confidence to begin to work more effectively with minority ethnic communities and in so doing enhance your professional skills.