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Report highlights growing need to improve end of life care for minority ethnic groups

A PHE-commissioned report highlights the growing need to make end of life care more accessible and appropriate for minority ethnic groups.

With Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups aged 65 and over set to treble in the next 25 years, a PHE-commissioned report highlights the growing need to make end of life care more accessible and appropriate.

A report, Palliative and End of Life Care for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities in the UK, commissioned by Marie Curie Cancer Care and Public Health England from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, published today, highlights that the end of life care needs of BAME communities are varied, growing, and despite examples of good practice, overall not adequately met.

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.

With this ageing population, there is an urgent need to address reasons for low levels of use of palliative and end of life care services by BAME communities.

A systematic review 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 identified as some of the reasons for low uptake of end of life care by BAME communities. The report authors say these issues can in part be addressed by improving communication with the patient and their family.

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 are highlighted in the report.

While the report acknowledges that better training is needed for health and social care professionals to enable them to provide appropriate care to BAME groups, it also notes the importance of avoiding assumptions and stereotypes and listening to patients and their families about their needs and preferences at the end of life.

Professor Julia Verne, Clinical Lead for Public Health England’s National End of Life Care Intelligence Network said:

This report shows that there are examples of excellent practice both in the UK and internationally. We need to learn from these to ensure that end of life care is both equitable and accessible to all.

This can mean addressing practical issues, such as providing adequate translation services where these are needed, and understanding how quality of care varies from one area to another. For example, the report shows that examples of best practice are localised in areas with more ethnic diversity. We need to ensure that learning from these areas is shared across the UK.

Above all, we need to listen to what BAME communities need and remember that every individual is different.

Download the report