Cracks in the system: Dementia, coronavirus and BAME communities

Shuhala Abbas, Dementia Support Worker in east London, shares the hardships faced by the families she supports.

I started at Alzheimer’s Society for the second time two years ago – I’d already worked here 2004–2016! I wanted to use my dementia knowledge, and my passion to support people brought me back. 

The majority of families I work with in Redbridge are from the Bangladeshi community. They face specific challenges in getting dementia support, because of cultural issues and deprivation.

Family members often don’t acknowledge themselves as a ‘carer’. I’ve been told, ‘Oh, I’m not her carer. I do what I need to for my mother-in-law as my duty.’

Many won’t access help till they’re at crisis point, for fear of being labelled as a bad son or daughter.

Shuhala Abbas

Coronavirus has brought its own struggles, especially where generations are living together in overcrowded housing.

One carer, working in an essential service, had to take unpaid leave for four months to protect his mother from the virus – his employer would only pay salary if a relative was shielding, having dementia wasn’t enough.

They had to stop the children from going to school because one of them shares the bed with Gran. 

Despite all of this, I feel now is a time we can make huge changes in how Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are supported. More people are noticing and willing to work on the cracks in the system.

I’m taking part in this year’s Memory Walk as a tribute to my service users lost to coronavirus, and in memory of my father. 

We need your help

We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.

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Dementia together magazine: Oct/Nov 20

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now
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