Trust, Hanover and Bield unveil research into needs of Scotland’s ethnic minority older people
A major research report providing unprecedented insights into the growing needs of ethnic minority older people in Scotland was launched this week by national housing associations, Trust, Hanover (Scotland) and Bield.
The Count Us In research is the brainchild of Rohini Sharma Joshi FCIH, equality, diversity & inclusion manager for Trust Housing Association and the project manager of the Older People Services Project, jointly run by the three housing associations and funded by the National Lottery’s Community Fund.
Thanks to 14 years delivering the Older People Services Project, helping Scotland’s ethnic minority older people break down barriers to accessing the services and benefits they were entitled to, the project team had earned the trust of older people across communities.
The multi-lingual team were able to get alongside over 400 ethnic minority older people, over a period of three years and use both one-to-one interviews and focus groups up and down the country, to listen to and record the stories. These older people spoke to them about their life journeys and achievements, as well as the many ways they struggle with deteriorating mental and physical health, unable to overcome the language, cultural and digital barriers to accessing support.
The core research took the form of a questionnaire covering the key topics of home environment, financial wellbeing, health, care and caring roles and participation in society. Focus groups with both older people and community staff supplemented the interviews with both approaches providing opportunities for individuals to open up and let their voices be heard on many topics, some of which were normally off limits because of the social stigma attached to them.
Rohini Sharma Joshi FCIH said: “Scotland is a small country but it has a big heart. We need to capitalise on this and ensure that we put the dream of integrated, multicultural, inclusive communities into action. This can only be done when we start to really grapple with the issues at the core of this ideal and take positive, practical steps to start making it a reality.
“We took the Count Us In research programme into the homes of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable older people in order to find out what was really going on. These older people trusted us and told us their stories, many of which exposed truly appalling living conditions, unmet physical and mental health needs, insupportable burdens of care and heartbreaking situations of isolation and loneliness.”
Christina McKelvie, minister for equalities and older people, added: “Our society has an ageing population that is growing faster in Scotland than the rest of the UK. That’s why we want to put systems in place to enable our older people to live well and independently for as long as possible.
“Count Us In is a valuable resource providing crucial insights into the very specific needs and struggles of Scotland’s ethnic minority older people. These insights will put people at the heart of our policies, and help service providers to deliver culturally appropriate care, accommodation and inclusion.”