Monica Shafaq, CEO of mental health and wellbeing charity The Kaleidoscope Plus Group, has been appointed as an ambassador for Wolverhampton-based charity Compton Care.
Ms Shafaq has teamed up with the charity in a bid to help break down barriers and the challenges people from the South Asian community face when accessing palliative care services.
Commenting on her new role as ambassador, Ms Shafaq said: “Culturally, there is a huge stigma within the South Asian community surrounding palliative care, from language barriers to ingrained beliefs that families should ‘care for their own’. I hope that my appointment will allow Compton Care and I to further challenge the actual and perceived barriers faced by my community.
“My dad was diagnosed with cancer 10-years-ago and devastatingly, it came to a stage where there was no further medical intervention available. His symptoms became progressively worse, he was unable to walk and needed round-the-clock care. My family and I were by his side 24/7 but it was important to us that my dad received the best medical support he could. Compton Care were instrumental in supporting him and my family in his final days at what was a very distressing and emotional time.”
Ms Shafaq’s appointment follows a large-scale investigation carried out by Compton Care into the challenges faced by the South Asian community when accessing its services. The study, which engaged more than 500 members of the South Asian community, was commissioned to break down barriers and help more people benefit from its care.
The year-long study, supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and Hospice UK, was launched in response to a low uptake of palliative care services among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in the UK. For Compton Care, where Wolverhampton has one of the largest BAME populations outside London (35.5%, of which 17.5% are South Asian), just 3% of its patients fall into that demographic.
Through a series of one-on-one conversations, focus groups, roadshows and events, Compton uncovered core challenges facing the South Asian community. These include deep-rooted stigma and shame associated with gaining external support, while others face intergenerational differences in opinion on what level of outside support is acceptable from outside the family. Language barriers and limited understanding of the types of services available, including Compton’s care delivered at home (70%), also prevent this community from exploring palliative care options for themselves or a loved one.
In response, Compton Care has developed a series of industry recommendations, highlighting changes to practice designed to give greater access to services in a wider range of care settings. These span: increased investment into community engagement activities; ensuring literature is culturally appropriate and disseminated correctly; appointing dedicated employees to boost engagement with the South Asian community; nurturing and empowering champions and ambassadors responsible for providing support; delivering more personalised care and leading more targeted events for specific communities. Since completing the study, Compton has already begun to implement these changes in its services.
Claire Marshall, CEO at Compton Care said: “Compton Care is operating in one of the most diverse areas in the country, but patient data highlighted that we weren’t fully reaching and serving all the full breadth of our community, so it was really important to look at why and how we can change this.”
“I am delighted to welcome Monica Shafaq to the charity and we all look forward to working with her to better educate and empower those in the South Asian community, while addressing the misconceptions about what we do so that more people will explore how we can help them.”