Different communities may  require different approaches to meet the same needs

Two girls walking together and laughing

‘Professionals need to think about young people who are ethnic minorities where caring is seen as part of the culture’ - Young carer

The need for culturally sensitive services 

Young carers from BAME communities will mostly have the same needs as others. However, culturally sensitive ways of enabling people to access services are needed, and some services may need to adapt the way they are provided in order to meet the needs of particular communities. 

Many black, Asian and other minority ethnic families, including Gypsy and Traveller families and new migrants, are isolated from services. 

The majority of people of black and Asian origin in Britain were born here, and in some places no longer form a minority of the population, but can still experience a lack of support to meet their specific cultural needs.

The National Black Carers and Carers Workers Network have highlighted that they have been unable to find a word in Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi or Bengali which translates into ‘carer’. This finding was reported by the Department of Health in its publication Carers at the heart of 21st century families and communities: A caring system on your side, a life of your own.  

Incidences of care being carried out within the family have also been found to be more common in certain cultural groups. In its report 'Characteristics of care providers and care receivers over time', the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports that ‘Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups are more likely to be carers than any other ethnic group’. However, comparative data from the 2001 and 2011 Census showed a decrease in the percentage of young carers ‘recorded’ from Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups, suggesting that they are not self-identifying and not being identified early by services.

Issues in gaining support

All carers can face issues in gaining support, however additional barriers can become apparent when there is a lack of cultural awareness:

  • Some families may be less likely to contact social care due to fear or misunderstanding, previous negative experiences or language barriers.
  • There may be concerns about cultural expectations of caring, where there may be expectations on family members to take responsibility for interpreting for the person they are caring for, regardless of their age or understanding.
  • Family carers within BME communities may be less able to access information about services or less able to articulate needs.
  • They may have faced cultural interpretations of illness and disability, which may manifest as discrimination or an unwillingness to understand or accept disability.
  • Families within BME communities may feel uncertain about support from formal sources because of cultural expectations of their role and a perception of their duty to look after elders.

* (Sources: Department of Health and our key principles of practice)

Culturally aware

'We end up becoming translators, legal advisors, housing advisors and carers for the family'- Young carer.

Services should ensure that all staff have appropriate training in cultural competence and can demonstrate at least a minimum understanding of the personal care and social care needs of the communities they are working in. However they should not assume that all families from a particular culture will have the same needs. 

Find out how services can be more culturally aware