Raising dementia awareness and improving access to services among south Asian communities

From the April/May 2016 issue of our magazine, Atiq Hassan, Dementia Adviser in Bradford, on raising awareness and improving access to services.

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As a dementia adviser, I’m always looking to help people affected by dementia in the way that’s best for them and which suits their individual needs.

For the many south Asian families I see, this means making sure that I’m being sensitive to their particular culture, as well as more practical considerations such as speaking the right language.

In some cultures, dementia is not widely recognised as being caused by diseases of the brain, and words such as ‘pagal’ – meaning ‘mad’ in some south Asian languages – are still used. I sometimes show people images of brain scans to help dispel these kinds of myths and stigma about dementia, such as it being a curse or punishment.

As well as raising dementia awareness among south Asian communities, I try to ensure that more people’s voices are heard in influencing and shaping services. This means more people can feel confident in using services that they previously felt uncertain about. 

In Bradford and the surrounding area, we see more families reaping the benefits of accessing help and support that they felt uncomfortable with before.

I thrive on challenges and seek to change people’s perceptions, and I was honoured to be nominated for an International Dementia Award last year. 

I try not to take, ‘We are managing OK,’ at face value too often, as digging deeper and understanding the cultural background can help to ensure that more people in all communities can access the support that they need.

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