Social services must recognise the differences among black and
ethnic communities in order to successfully meet their needs,
according to a social services director, writes Katie
Jenny Goodall, director for Brent council, told delegates at Age
Concern’s conference on ethnic elders, that black and ethnic
communities should not be treated as one homogenous group.
“In order to better meet the needs of black and ethnic elders,
social services must first understand that these groups are made up
of individual people, men and women, who have individual needs,”
Brent is the second most culturally diverse authority in the
country with a majority ethnic population. Over the next 10 years
the proportion of older people from ethnic groups will rise to 42
Goodall said that black elders are diverse with individual
voices that must be heard by service providers. Myths about ethnic
elders not needing services must be confronted, she said.
“It is not that black elders do not want or need services, but
that they are not provided in a way that is acceptable or
accessible. Black elders are in fact likely to need services more,
not less, as they deal with lifetime disadvantages of low incomes,
poor housing, limited educational opportunities and poor health,”
The annual user satisfaction survey of Brent’s bathing
service showed that black and Asian elders were under using it.
Asian users were dissatisfied because the carers provided were not
from their ethnic background. Finding it hard to recruit
appropriate carers, Brent looked to a specialist provider to
develop a bathing service.
“There is therefore a need to ensure that services are
specifically acceptable to particular groups,” said Goodall.