The need for public services to rebuild trust emerged as the key theme in our recent webinar, hosted in partnership with the Office of the Public Guardian, focused on Bridging the Gap: Delivering Health Equity for BAME Communities.
Nick Goodwin, the Public Guardian, has been concerned at the low take-up among BAME communities of the Lasting Power of Attorney, the legal agreement that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf if you no longer have the capacity.
Office of the Public Guardian data reveals that the areas where someone is most likely to have a diagnosis of dementia are where you are least likely to find people who have a Lasting Power of Attorney, such as Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and London. Many of these areas encompass BAME communities. This leads to people being kept in hospital when they could be back in the community.
Goodwin said: “The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that over a million days of hospital beds [each year] are taken by people who lack capacity, who could actually be out in society. Lasting Power of Attorney often facilitates people going home early when their attorneys can speak for them.”
Geraldine McMurdie, Head of Intermediate Care at HC-One, the UK’s largest independent care home provider, is a member of the BAME Communities Advisory Group for the Department of Health and Social Care, established during the pandemic. She said the group had highlighted the importance of building relationships through “trusted people and trusted places, making sure that there were different modes of communication to reach people from different ethnicities and races so that they felt they could go to information from sources that were relevant and relatable to them, or the information was tailored in a way that was meaningful to them”.
London GP Dr Edwina Akerele added: “People already know who they trust. If it’s going to take years to build trust in us, we need to bring on board the people they already trust, and work with them. That was a gap that we realised we hadn’t been utilising.”
Akerele said that as the vaccination programme has been rolled out, “we have the faith communities opening up vaccination centres, we have videos from imams and from temples saying ‘look at my arm, I’ve had this done’. And you can see straightaway how much that’s influenced people. If people see us working together, and you see the leaders that they trust working with us, the more likely people are to join in and want to engage”.
Akerele believed that an important step in building confidence among BAME communities in public services “is that people have to acknowledge the racism within the NHS. In the last year people are starting to talk about it more, but what we need to see is action and evidence that people are working towards reducing or eliminating racism within the NHS”.
Goodwin stressed that 49 per cent of the workforce at the Office of the Public Guardian was from BAME communities, and highlighted the work to build relationships with underrepresented groups around the Lasting Power of Attorney.
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Bridging the Gap: Delivering Health Equity for BAME Communities
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