End of life care for black, Asian and ethnic minorities "inadequate"

26 June 2013
A new report by Marie Curie Cancer care says there is a growing need to rethink how accessible and appropriate end of life care is for people in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic minority (BAME) groups.

The report found that "lack of knowledge about services, misunderstandings and mistrust (due to previous experiences of discrimination), and a lack of cultural sensitivity on the part of service providers" are key reasons for low uptake of end of life care by BAME communities.

'Palliative and End of Life Care for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities in the UK' was commissioned by Marie Curie Cancer Care and Public Health England from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London.

In England and Wales it is predicted that by 2026 there will be over 1.3 million people from BAME groups aged 65 and over, compared to just over half a million in 2001. By 2026 almost half a million will be aged 70 and over. The report recommends that service providers and commissioners recognise the growing need for improved end of life care for BAME communities and that they learn from examples of best practice, some of which it highlights. 

Dr Jonathan Koffman, report author from King’s College London, said: "Our study highlights some of the issues people from BAME groups and their families face during advanced disease and the end of life that prevent them from accessing vital services which can significantly improve the quality of their lives.

"Issues such as lack of knowledge about what is on offer and mistrust of services due to previous experiences may contribute to low uptake of specialist palliative care. These issues need to be examined locally and changed where relevant.

"Service providers should take into account the issues raised by this report and review how well their palliative care services are meeting the needs of the community."

Read the report: Palliative and End of Life Care for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities in the UK

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