Ageing and Ethnicity

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The Ageing and Ethnicity conference, created by Age UK and Runnymede, took place on 13 December 2012, 10:30am-4:30pm, in London. 
This free of charge conference was attended by more than 100 people and highlighted new research into key themes in ageing and ethnicity - including examples of local practice in service provision, and engagement for and with older people from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities. 

The conference was made up of a mixture of plenary and workshop sessions covering a variety of topics, including – demographic trends and projections, financial and retirement planning,  health and wellbeing, social care and support, amongst others. A full programme, summaries, slides and notes can be found below.

Context: Ageing and Diverse Society
Nat Lievesley, Researcher, Centre for Policy on Ageing

After a welcome from Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, Age UK, Nat Lievesley (Centre for Policy on Ageing) gave a comprehensive presentation outlining key demographic trends which are causing a significant increase in the number of older people from BME communities, now and over the next 20-40 years.  Nat discussed the implications for services – for example, the need to provide for growing numbers of BME older people with dementia, and/or needing culturally appropriate residential care. To view Nat's presentation please click through the slide show below.

Dr Omar Khan,  Head of Policy Research, Runnymede

Runnymede has carried out a 3-year research programme looking at ageing in BME communities, covering five different topic areas.  Omar Khan presented a summary of some of the key findings from the research, and the policy recommendations which Runnymede has put forward.  For further information, please see Omar’s presentation below, and Runnymede’s summary briefing ‘Ageing & Ethnicity’ – details at the bottom of this page.

Breakout Workshops
There were 5 workshops that took place and each conference attendee could attend 2 of their choice. Please find the presentations and summaries below for these.

Retirement decision-making: where will older BME people live?
Heather Osborne, Chief Executive, Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin
Dr Omar Khan,  Head of Policy Research, Runnymede

This workshop began by raising some of the identity issues that people from ethnic and minority backgrounds face. This generation face an increase in people with duel nationalities who may see their 'home country' as where they came from originally, where they live now, where their family are located or all of the above so it is much less predictable as to where people will choose to retire and spend the later years of their lives. Many systems such as benefits are geared towards people with just one nationality and therefore individuals are often unsure of the rules for people with duel nationalities. There was also a long discussion over why the rules with respect to pensions are different for different countries and people leaving the UK are not always informed as to whether or not their pension policy applies to their country of destination. 

Heather Oborne then went onto to discuss a project that Age UK Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin have set up to increase their reach and services for BME people in their community. Amongst other things, Heather highlighted the differences in funding and therefore level of service provided from Local Authorities even within a small area. More about this project can be found in the presentation below.  

Grandparenting, intergenerational care
Klara Schmitz, Research and Policy Analyst, Runnymede
Sarah Wellard, Director of Policy - Research and Communications, Grandparents Plus

Klara and Sarah led on a vibrant discussion about Grandparents looking after children in a society where increasingly young professionals are reluctant or can't afford to give up their jobs when they have children. The majority of BME grandparents provide childcare either full or part-time with 27% of the working families relying on them. Research has shown that BME families are less likely to use formal childcare with the belief that families are better at bringing up children and sharing family knowledge than strangers. It is believed that there will be more British born BME grandparents in the future but increased return migration may cause the rates to slow down.

There is concern that the government doesn't take the role of grandparents seriously and that there is a lack support for grandparents bringing up their grandchildren especially as this often results in a decrease in earnings. To view Sarah's presentation on Grandparents Plus please view the slideshow below.


Social care and disability
Rob Trotter, Senior Research Officer & Public Policy Advisor, Scope
Jennifer Werner, Support Planning Project Manager, Age UK Lewisham & Southwark
Chithmini De Silva, Age UK Lewisham & Southwark

This workshop focussed on personalised approaches to social care services,  and discussed the opportunities and challenges that this new approach to social care policy and practice presents for BME older people who need care and support services. Priorities for BME older people might be different from their White British counterparts. For example, they may need to make more overseas visits to keep in touch with family. 'Person-centred support planning' is a strategy that Age UK Lewisham and Southwark are developing in practise. More information can be found in Jennifer's presentation below.

Health and wellbeing
Katherine Hill, Policy Adviser (Equalities and Human Rights), Age UK
Jabeer Butt, Deputy Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation
Hazel Brodie, Older People's Pilot Project Manager, MacMillan Cancer Support
Shaheen Bi, Insight and Project Manager, Sporting Equals

This workshop discussed the changing landscape in the health industry and how the UK compares to other countries. People from BME communities in the UK are often less likely to seek medical help as early and are therefore diagnosed later (Cancer was used as an example) meaning their mortality rates are disproportionately higher than people from non-BME communities living in the UK.

Shaheen presented details and findings from the pilot scheme she has been working on in partnership with Age UK's 'Fit as a Fiddle' programme and identified that many issues that we might label as 'ethnic' are actually faith related and that this should be looked upon in a positive manner as an opportunity to reach and engage older people. She highlighted that most religious scriptures advocate looking after your health and being active in the community, so older people already involved in a faith group were often easier to reach with the right approach. For a copy of the power point presentation Shaheen used, please see below.


Engagement, voice and representation
Diane Rutherford, Organisational and Professional Development, brap
Marjory Broughton, South East Region Forum Ageing
Suzanne Akram, Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum
This workshop highlighted some successful engagement schemes that are currently working in the UK, the speakers talked through various projects and how they try to engage older people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Diane discussed 3 projects which brap is currently delivering; "Its not about us!" - making sure voices of older BME people are heard, "Heart to heart" - encouraging BME older women to engage with health services, as they are a group who historically have not been very well engaged by health services, and "Armchair advocates" - a project that looks at engaging with older people from where they are.

South East Region Forum Ageing:
Marjory talked about how this 10 year old organisation works in partnership with other groups to promote social inclusion and challenge ageism in the South East area.

Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum:
Suzanne discussed how they had been working with Age UK Surrey to encourage more BME people to engage with Age UK services. Suzanne discussed some of the challenges such as language barriers and lack of knowledge of services available that they face.

Panel Discussion
Rob Berkeley, Director, Runnymede
Jo Moriarty, Researcher, King's College London
Jabeer Butt, Deputy Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation
Rosa Hui, Director, Bristol & Avon Chinese Women’s Group
Gary Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Camden

The panel consisted of a mix of people, all with different experiences of working with older people from minority ethnic communities. There were some key messages that were echoed, the most resounding of which was the need for organisations to work together to engage with minority communities in the UK. People's views need to be shifted so that they view older people as enriching the country and not seen as a burden.   

Age UK and Runnymede produced information about their work and findings on the topic of Ageing and Ethnicity. Please download these below if you wish to see them.

opens link in new windowAge UK, Ageing and Ethnicity case study document (771.18KB, pdf)

opens link in new windowRunnymede, Ageing and Ethnicity, Researching older BME people (350.21KB, pdf)

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