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Supporting South Asian carers and those they care for : the role of the primary health care team

Background: Demographic and socioeconomic changes have increased policy interest in informal carers. However, despite the multicultural nature of British society, most research in this field has been in majority communities. Aim: To explore the role of the primary health care team (PHCT) in supporting carers from British South Asian communities. Design of study: Qualitative study. Setting: Four South Asian communities in Leicestershire and West Yorkshire. Method: Focus groups and in-depth interviews were used to assess male and female carers, supported by a literature review. Results: Failure to recognise carers’ needs, gaps in service provision, and communication and language issues compromised carers’ ability to care. While some carers were positive about the PHCT role, the main weaknesses concerned poor consultation, PHCT attitudes towards carers, and access to appropriate services. Conclusion: South Asian carers’ experiences largely parallel those of others, but there are some issues that are distinct, namely, language and communication barriers, culturally inappropriate services, and implicit or explicit racism. The multi-ethnic nature of Great Britain requires that professional practice enhances the ability of minority ethnic communities to provide informal care. The findings underline the important role of the PHCT in ensuring that carers’ needs are taken seriously and that appropriate services reach them. Keywords: ethnic groups; cultural diversity; carers; primary health care team.

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British Journal of General Practice
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