Cultural sensitivity and awareness

Dementia doesn't discriminate - get ideas and free resources to help you conduct meaningful research with people who have dementia.

How inclusive are your services?

Relationships matter - the more inclusive your service is, the easier you are likely to find it to get feedback from a wide range of people affected by dementia about accessing and using it. 

Dementia does not discriminate - it affects people of all cultures and backgrounds. People’s backgrounds and beliefs inform their sense of self, how they understand, feel about, and respond to other people and their environment - including diagnoses, health and care organisations and their staff. 

This film is of dementia services in Tower Hamlets. It highlights work done to meet the needs of the local community.

Even if staff are friendly, caring and well-intentioned, there may be barriers for some people in accessing your services.

People's use and experience of services will be informed by factors such as:

  • cultural traditions 
  • religious practices
  • dementia-awareness.

This film 'Finding Patience' was made to raise awareness of the need for families to talk about dementia and to realise that it might affect them - it was particularly aimed at Afro-Caribbean people, to encourage people to start to think ahead about how they might get help and support if and when they need it.

Reduce barriers to engaging with people about their needs and experiences. This short film highlights, stigma, barriers and silence around dementia among some South Asian communities and offers ideas about ways to reduce these - including

  • reaching out to people through community contacts rather than relying on leaflets and flyer
  • encouraging people to get involved in research.  

The following video shows an environment full of familiar sights and sounds for the service users. 

There can be dangers in assuming that people fit into neat cultural boxes - it can recreate stereotypes and nobody likes feeling they are being seen and misunderstood that way. It could create barriers to people feeling that you really do want to find out about, and improve, their experience.

The following film was made to raise awareness among health professionals of the need to be person-centred. The staff talk about the importance they find in sharing feedback with each other to enable people with dementia to have a good experience in the care setting.

Improve experience of people with dementia by working together with people from diverse communities.

Feedback and ideas from people with dementia, and carers, from minority cultural and ethnic groups may help remove barriers to accessing and using services that organisations may not appreciate otherwise.

Working together may identify solutions to help a more diverse range of people to access and benefit from services, and to enjoy a better of quality of life by not putting off accessing help they doubt will really appreciate their needs. 

Planning your involvement to be inclusive

  • get ideas from people with dementia, carers and target diverse communities you want to engage about what they feel are good ways to involve them and get feedback 
    • are there food and drink or social activity traditions associated with getting together (such as dominoes, drumming, singing or doing craft activities) which you might want to integrate into your activity to make it  feel welcoming and attuned to people's needs.
    • find out about interpreters who speak, or sign, in community languages used by people you want to engage.
  • find out about religious and cultural occasions which might be relevant considerations
    • to avoid major involvement events clashing with times people are fasting, for example.
    • to work with the opportunity of times people traditionally expect to be reflecting on the needs of vulnerable people in the community.
  • equality impact assessment can help check you have considered a range of diverse groups, but you need to reach beyond statutory groups to appreciate nuances and considerations of particular groups.

Useful Link

A comparison of new dementia diagnosis rates across ethnic groups in UK primary care: blog, University College London (2018)