Meeting minority needs
Meeting minority needs

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Meeting minority needs

3 Audio and activity

Activity 1

In these audio clips, you will hear about the Chinese Welfare Association. At the time of recording, Anna Manway-Watson was its Director, and Lily Sau Han Braid, the Community Development Worker for older people. Both women talk about the role of the Association from the perspective of workers and offer insights into the needs of the Chinese community at that time.

You will also hear from Al, a local business man. Along with his wife, Al cares for his elderly parents. He talks about his parents' adjustment to a culture, different from their own, his experiences as a husband, father and son, and his hopes for the future. He acknowledges the stresses and the pleasures involved in caring, and the complex mix of love and duty. Although the context and the culture differ, in many respects Al's account seems to resonate with the accounts given by family carers from West Sussex in K202_1 The Adur carers project.

Listen to the audio clips and, as you listen, make notes on:

  • what you think are the main problems facing older Chinese people in Northern Ireland;
  • whether, from what Al says, he and his family are different to any other family where there are older people in need of care and support.
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Skip transcript: Clip 1: The Chinese community in Northern Ireland

Transcript: Clip 1: The Chinese community in Northern Ireland

Helen Robinson
Carers from minority ethnic groups sometimes have specific needs. Differences in language and culture may mean that they face additional barriers in accessing resources, and the services offered to them may not always be appropriate.
Woman
Yung Yee fong liu. Four words. Yung yee, is to rear your children, to protect old age.
Helen Robinson
That was Anna Watson, director of the Chinese Welfare Association in Belfast, with a traditional Chinese saying. For Anna, it's a reminder of how much things have changed within the eight thousand strong community she serves. It no longer rings entirely true. Though, for the founder members, the support of their children was very important, as they often found themselves isolated from the rest of their community.
Anna Watson
The first Chinese family came to Northern Ireland in 1963. Then Chinese people continued to come right through the last thirty years, although we believe there was a bit of a lull during the seventies, at the height of the troubles. But, in fact, Chinese people have never stopped coming to Northern Ireland. So they, in fact, sought out areas in towns and cities in Northern Ireland where there maybe hadn't been any restaurants and carry-outs before, and then they went and established restaurants. And, quite often in rural areas, they would be the only family in that area - miles and miles without any Chinese families about them.
Helen Robinson
Lily Braid a community development worker with the Association, found one very common problem amongst older people, when she conducted a survey of their health and social care needs.
Lily Braid
I think a lot of the problems are related to the language, because they cannot speak ... everything is connected. A lot of the supports are done by the family. If they have fallen ill, then it's the family's responsibility to look after them, because, it's no point getting somebody who doesn't speak the language to go into your house to do the home help, or care for you.
Helen Robinson
Surmounting the language barrier by providing translation services is one of the most important roles performed by the Chinese Welfare Association.
Anna Watson
There isn't a single social worker here who’s Chinese ... in all the social services in Northern Ireland. So, if the elderly person cannot speak the language, they feel that: one, people from the wider community wouldn't understand their culture; two, there wouldn't be the common language to deal with it.
Helen Robinson
To outsiders it may appear that the community's self sufficient but, as Lily explains, this is not always the case.
Lily Braid
I think they have a stereotype in them like ... in perhaps in the health services ... they would have thought this is the culture for the families to look after their elderly. They may just jump to the conclusion, “No, the family will look after them. We don't have to worry too much about it”. So that will limit what choices that they can have.
End transcript: Clip 1: The Chinese community in Northern Ireland
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Clip 1: The Chinese community in Northern Ireland
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Skip transcript: Clip 2: Minority support needs - A case study: Al

Transcript: Clip 2: Minority support needs - A case study: Al

Helen Robinson
Changing times and social circumstances means that the support of relatives can't always be taken for granted.
Anna Watson
When people all live together, on the same village street, it's much easier. You can live next door to each other, or across the road from each other. And help is so much easier to get. Aunts and uncles, and grannies, all live on the same area. But, in Northern Ireland, it's not the same case. Your average house is so small here - three bedroom average house. You know, maybe the elderly person is living with the eldest son, which is quite often the tradition. Then, the daughter, the married daughter, could be in Cookstown – say, fifty miles away. So you don't have the same convenience of that family network.
Helen Robinson
When Al and his wife began their new lives in Northern Ireland, they also brought Al's parents, who are both in their late seventies. Al's mum is blind, and his father has limited mobility.
Al
Basically, I translate everything for them. My father, despite his age, he's quite a keen learner in English, but I do not expect him to learn a lot, because of his age. At this moment, my father can call for a taxi, he can order the coal, he can phone my office to ask for me. My mum, because of her quiet personality, she will be more unwilling to learn. But, basically, they just cannot understand English at all.
Helen Robinson
Although Al and his wife provide substantial and regular support for his parents, they wouldn't describe themselves as carers.
Al
A carer would be somebody, not from the relationship of our family ... third party, to do the care work ... to look after the welfare of my parents. I will be ... in my opinion, those people will be the carers.
At the very first beginning, it's quite difficult for my wife, because my parents are not her natural parents. But then, because there is a huge age gap between my wife and my parents ... so she can look after my parents, based on the respect of her age, and simple it is to just treat them as their grandparents, you know.
Helen Robinson
Al says his wife looks after their baby son, and provides intimate care for her mother-in-law. He does, however, share domestic chores with his wife.
Al
I didn't feel ... because ... sometimes I do have some uncomfortable feeling. When I do such a thing, I just scare ... you know, when I have just been crossed by someone, they will be laughing at me. And I'm trying to do a lady's job, and ... yeah, basically that will be the situation, and the psychological difficulty. It does not create any hard feeling in me. It's just a natural thing ... just say inside myself, “Oh, come on,” you know. But it's quite easy to cope with, you know. I just feel sometimes, if I'm tidying up something, that that time should be spent with my parents ... I just feel a little bit off duty, you know, why I was not there.
End transcript: Clip 2: Minority support needs - A case study: Al
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Skip transcript: Clip 3: Meeting needs in the future

Transcript: Clip 3: Meeting needs in the future

Helen Robinson
In the future, it may become more and more difficult to assume that those in the Chinese community will be able or willing to meet all of the needs of their ageing relatives.
Lily Braid
Generation gap - that’s always a problem. Maybe the youngsters, the grandchildren that are brought up here ... the life of ... the way of thinking are just like any of you. So, they may find a grandparent staying in the same house ... perhaps is occupying one of the rooms which ... that room perhaps can be his. And that's the kind of conflicts there.
Helen Robinson
Anna and her colleagues at the CWA, are witnessing profound changes within their community. Campaigning for the recognition of the cultural needs of Chinese people has become a priority.
Anna Watson
We are actually fighting, or arguing, with the local authority about delivering food into the home of an elderly person who, for the first time, is entitled to what we call ‘chilled meals’ here - may be different from England - used to be called ‘Meals on Wheels’ - but it's delivered food to the elderly home. This person, Chinese person, said, “All my life, I've been eating Chinese food. I don't potatoes and European food. I can't eat them”. And the local authority said, “No, we cannot do this. We cannot make one meal for this Chinese person”.
Helen Robinson
Legislation against discrimination in Northern Ireland is relatively new. It's hoped the impact will soon be felt.
Anna Watson
We have the Race Relations Order, which came very, very late to Northern Ireland. While the rest of the UK has a Race Relation Act since 1976, Northern Ireland has this Act extended here only in 1997 - twenty one years behind. So, in a way, that is a reflection of how poor in fact local authorities have helped ethnic minorities.
Now the equality agenda is very, very high hopefully in local government now. And now there is the big Equality Commission, which looks after disabilities, religion, gender and race discrimination. So there is a big establishment there, to have a voice as well.
Helen Robinson
Al's expectations of the next generation are markedly different from those of his parents. Its his needs, as he ages, and those of his Chinese contemporaries, that will have to be anticipated by the health and social care workers of the future.
Al
I think the time has changed, and the value of certain things in the past has gone. And I do not expect, you know, my son to be my insurance. What I really want to see him ... is growing up healthy, doing the right things, being a disciplined, treat me as his friend, respect me, of course - because I do respect my parents - economically independent, and has a good job, and most important has a very good family. And I will not see him as my insurance, you know.
End transcript: Clip 3: Meeting needs in the future
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Discussion

Anna and Lily talk about difficulties caused by the isolation of the Chinese community in Northern Ireland and of the isolation of individual families. This has meant that there has not been a development of services to meet the needs of people whose culture and language is not that of the majority. Families are providing much of the care and support because there are no care workers who speak the language. This can give a false impression of self-sufficiency.

They also mention delays in legislation, for example the Race Relations Act was only effective from 1997 in Northern Ireland. Without this law there was no way to put pressure on local authorities to improve services. However, there is hope for the future through the creation of the Equality Commission.

Al talks very much in the same way as the West Sussex carers in K202_1 The Adur carers project. He's concerned about his parents' need for support now that his mother is blind and his father has difficulties with mobility. However, he's obviously not happy with the label ‘carer’. For him, a carer is someone who is not a relative. What he and his wife do for his parents he regards as something done from respect, and perhaps duty. However, he says he doesn't expect his son to be his insurance. In his commitment to the idea of independence for himself, Al is no different to people of his generation in minority communities as well as in the majority population.

K202_2

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