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It isn’t rocket science – or is it?

We have been rejoicing in the experience of working with like-minded people on prospects to improve services for people with dementia and their families of ethnic minority groups.

The argument is that they are not understood by the mainstream services and that they mistrust those services – all compounded by stigma associated with any form of mental illness or disorder. We know that it is not very helpful to lump ‘ethnic minority’ communities into one – because every community is unique – African-Caribbean is not the same as South Asian. Within African-Caribbean and within South Asian there are identifiable groupings with characteristics, needs and strengths which are theirs.


Within the West Midlands the towns and cities have their own trademarks. Within what has become ‘Wolverhampton’ Bilston, Wednesfield, Bushbury, Chapel Ash, Tettenhall, Bradmore, Penn and Graisely are all recognisable places, which have differing pasts and continuingly different presents which apply to peoples of all colours, creeds and class. It is a complicated world we live in.


The preference for top-down standardised models of service does not fit well in this situation. Sandwell has a solution which means working with the eight old townships which find themselves ‘Sandwell’. So rather than work with a population of a quarter of a million, you listen to 30,000 – their languages, their prejudices, their ideas, their measures of what feels OK.


A reference in the BMJ led me to rea