Perceptions of dementia in ethnic communities

People from CALD backgrounds face numerous barriers when it comes to accessing services. These include difficulties with language and a lack of knowledge of the service systems.  The lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services and culturally appropriate assessment is a major impediment to the accurate diagnosis and treatment for dementia. Brain changes associated with dementia present unique challenges to people from non-English speaking backgrounds, often causing them to revert to their primary language and past experiences.  Such changes not only have a significant impact on family relationships but also cause difficulties for service provision. Furthermore, there seems to be a lack of understanding of dementia by many people in some CALD communities.

There is currently very little research into perceptions of dementia across CALD communities in Australia. Dementia Australia Vic received funding from Allens Arthur Robinson to develop a resource kit outlining dementia perceptions in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese communities. This resource will assist organizations working with CALD clients to better understand the background of consumers they are supporting and develop appropriate services to assist their clients. 

The resource kit consists of individual community profiles and the following information:

•   Introduction – brief reference to migration history and language.
•   Perceptions of dementia
•   Diagnosis and treatment
•   Role of the family
•   Attitudes to community care
•   Attitudes to residential care
•   Attitudes to counselling
•   Religion and its role in dementia care
•   Key issues to consider
•   Key community contacts
•   Dementia-specific information

Information contained in these profiles is based on opinions of people who were consulted during this project. It is important to remember that each person is an individual and each individual within a specific ethnic group may not hold the same views or opinions about dementia or even have the same amount of knowledge about the condition. It is essential to consider the perceptions of ageing, memory changes and dementia and recognise the differences within and across cultures in order to engage CALD communities and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The basic principles of ‘person-centred care’ need to be taken when working with people with dementia from CALD backgrounds.

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