The vice chair of Bradford-based Manningham Housing Association (MHA), Abdul A Ravat, has led praise from senior representatives of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) housing sector for a new report which criticised the slow pace in developing suitable homes for those living with the dementia.
The 52-page document, Housing for people with dementia – are we ready?, was published yesterday by the All-Party Parliament Group (APPG) on Housing and Care for Older People, after gathering evidence from older people living with dementia, organisations within the housing and care sectors, and government departments.
The report highlighted that the number of BAME people with dementia in England and Wales is likely to double to around 50,000 by 2026.
The cross-party group of MPs and peers also recommended that, when producing housing plans, local authorities should clearly set out the housing demand for people living with dementia in their locality including estimates for need in BAME and LGBT communities and how these targets will be met.
Mr Ravat delivered oral evidence to the APPG inquiry on behalf of the Ageing Well Network which campaigns to improve housing provision for BAME citizens in older age.
Commenting on the report, the Manningham Housing Association vice chair said: “Whilst many older people enjoy the benefits of living longer and living better, ‘Ageing Well’ for many from the BAME communities is a struggle – a time of continuous financial hardship, ill-health and reduced life-expectancy.
“The UK’s BAME population is ageing and the 2021 Census will show increases in excess of 1.2 million. The Muslim Council of Britain estimate that the Muslim population – the largest BAME group – will increase fourfold between 2019 and 2036. So why is government, statutory bodies, social care, NHS, funders and providers failing to address these demands and demographic needs?
“We are grateful to the cross party APPG on Housing and Care for Older People for conducting their inquiry into the current state of housing for those living with dementia and for giving the Ageing Well Network the opportunity to be called as a witness.
“But the evidence presented requires a minimum of 30,000 new homes to be built per annum and enable people from the BAME communities, including those with dementia, to have more choice to live in safe, accessible, affordable homes and environments that values cultural sensitivity.
“With barely 7,000 homes built in 2019, we urge greater action and for the housing sector to lead the charge for change”.
Lord Best, co-chair of the APPG on Housing and Care for Older People, said: “We noted the growing numbers of older people in BAME communities.
“We believe the old assumption that people from BAME groups look after their older parents / grandparents at home is an oversimplification, it can no longer be expected that extended families will take on the sole responsibility for their relatives with dementia as they themselves grapple with the demands of contemporary modern life.
“We urge local authorities to identify clearly the requirements for older people’s housing that include those from minority communities and, through planning powers in collaboration with adult social care and housing services, seek to ensure these needs are met in a culturally and sensitive manner to avoid complete isolation.”
Mushtaq Khan, co-ordinator at BME National, said: “Our members continue to deliver housing for older people together with high quality social programmes that enable older communities to thrive, such as befriending schemes, festivals, and digital inclusion projects. However, we know that there will be a rapid increase in the over-65 BAME population in the next 30 years.
“We are keen to further identify issues that affect older people from our communities including cultural sensitivities, the impact of housing on health and the need to deliver accessible and good quality affordable homes.
“We would stress the need to carry out necessary research into the challenges facing BAME older people, connecting policymakers to tenants and, with government funding, helping develop and test new solutions in their homes and communities.”
Lee Bloomfield, Manningham Housing Association chief executive, said: “I congratulate the APPG for producing such a comprehensive report incorporating a series of clear recommendations for decision-makers on how to best deliver housing solutions to those living with dementia.
“Manningham Housing Association was proud to host the public launch of the Ageing Well in BAME Communities Network in 2019, which is growing in numbers and scope.
“Abdul and his colleagues have done an excellent job in ensuring that particular challenges faced by BAME communities are being articulated to individuals and groups that can affect positive change.”
Rishi Spolia, head of Locality at Accord Housing Association, said: “Accord are delighted to be involved in the Ageing Well Network and the research that has been produced by the APPG.
“The group has supported Accord’s work and given us the ability to focus and target actions that ensures that the current stock and service offering for existing BAME populations, as well as any new provision or services, will better reflect cultural and faith diversity.
“The disproportionate effect that COVID-19 has had on BAME groups has further highlighted the discrepancies that can arise from poor accommodation and community provision in our ageing population.
“Accord has been working on an older persons’ offer tailored towards BAME communities which is culturally sensitive with quick wins like installing lever taps in our properties to communities that require running water to perform ablution before prayers and making food available to suit specific diets.
“We hope to offer a pathway of accommodation to customers that will range from a person of good health being housed in general needs accommodation, moving to sheltered housing, extra and nursing care, or have care in their own homes as they grow older to improve choices and outcomes for BAME older people and those diagnosed with associated support needs like dementia and mental health.
“This will enable families to be comfortable that their loved ones’ personal, mental, and dietary needs are being catered for with the peace of mind that it will be graceful, respectful, and culturally aware.”
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