A Bristol-based partnership has launched an innovative series of short films in six different languages giving information about dementia and relevant support services in the city.
The Dementia Wellbeing Service, a partnership between Alzheimer’s Society and Devon Partnership NHS Trust, commissioned the six short films – in Urdu, Punjabi, Cantonese, Somali, Polish and English-language – to address the stigma, misunderstanding and lack of accurate information currently available for the culturally diverse communities throughout Britain, as well as information on how people affected by dementia can access support in Bristol.
A dementia All Party Parliamentary report* in 2013 suggested that nationally people from BME communities are under-represented in dementia services, they are often diagnosed at a later stage of the illness or not at all. A recent research report**, overseen by the University of the West of England, shows Bristol reflects the national picture.
At present, it is estimated that 47% of people with dementia from Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in Bristol are not accessing the services available to them**, and research conducted by Alzheimer’s Society has concluded that this can lead to a far greater risk of late diagnosis and not being prescribed appropriate medication and medical interventions for dementia.
Mrs Kwan, who is originally from China, has lived in Bristol with her husband for 45 years and raised their family here. She is now carer to her husband who has dementia.
She explains: “Life changes significantly for someone with dementia, and for their carer and family too. It’s really important to get help. In our community, a lot of people don’t know what dementia is, we don’t even have a word for it. This means that lots of people with the disease run the risk of being forgotten.”
There are an estimated 25,000 BME people with dementia in the UK. While the number of white, British people with dementia is expected to double by 2051, the numbers of people from BME communities is expected to increase sevenfold within the same timeframe.
Community Development Co-ordinator for the Dementia Wellbeing Service Trish Caverly explains: “At the Dementia Wellbeing Service we work closely with people with dementia and their carers to support them to lead as full a life as possible, offering therapeutic and clinical interventions as well as signposting them to information about the groups, activities and support which is available to them. We work closely with different community groups across Bristol, and during community consultations one common finding was that there was a lack of culturally appropriate, accessible information about dementia and the support available, for people for whom English is not their first language.
“In many of the communities that we work with, we’ve found that there is a lack of knowledge about what dementia is. This is backed up by recent research overseen by the University of the West of England which has found that many people fail to understand that dementia is a health condition. It’s often thought of as a ‘normal’ part of ageing, and for many there is stigma attached. This stops people from seeking out the help available to them. We know that language barriers can compound this situation, which is why it was vital to make this series of short films”.
Within each of the films, medical experts, people affected by dementia and members of the relevant communities explain what dementia is, outline how people can gain a diagnosis and access the free support available from the Dementia Wellbeing Service.
This issue is echoed across many communities, as well as within white-British communities, and one which the films address head on.
Khadra Abdi, who cares for her mother with dementia and is active in the Somali community in Bristol says: “Many older people within our community have limited English language, and when they don’t understand what dementia is it can be very scary. These films explain about the disease and the help available in a simple, clear way, and most importantly in their native language, making it far easier for them to gain a genuine understanding of dementia, get a diagnosis from their GP and to get support from the Dementia Wellbeing Service”.
The films are available to view via the Dementia Wellbeing Service website www.bristoldementiawellbeing.org