Summary of report content
In October2020, HW Lambeth held an online event with South London and Maudsley Trust (SLaM) and Black Thrive for local people to explore the inequalities linked to vascular dementia experienced by Lambeth’s Black communities.
SLaM has identified that local people of African and Caribbean heritage:
- risk developing the disease up to 10 years earlier than other people
- are diagnosed at a later stage compared with other people
- may encounter cultural bias in the diagnostic tools which could delay their diagnosis further.
The event also included a live play about a Caribbean family’s different responses to a family member experiencing memory problems and confusion. The play, commissioned by Healthwatch Lambeth, was developed and performed by local community members.
Over 50 people attended the event and around 30 people were involved in the drama project. Through these activities HW Lambeth learnt:
- Awareness levels: most participants knew something about vascular dementia, but few were aware of the associated inequalities faced by people of African and Caribbean heritage.
- Reasons for late diagnosis: continuity of care is important, as is having trusted relationships with GPs. Some participants felt that their experiences of GPs being slow or reluctant to make referrals may point to unconscious bias.
- Grouping the memory service with other mental health services (either through shared physical location or branding) may create a barrier for some members of the Black community because of the wider mistrust of mental health provision linked to related systemic inequalities.
- The impact of structural racism on stress levels and other long-term health conditions within the Black community must be acknowledged when exploring solutions.