[Press & Publications] SUCCESS AT A PRICE [Ethnicity Research; Social Services]

May 2000

No 104

Success and affluence are bringing problems of isolation and stress for some members of the Asian communities in Leicester, a major new study by the University of Leicester has revealed.

The Ethnicity Research Centre in the University's Department of Sociology has completed a large-scale study of Asian elders and carers living in suburban Leicester.

These were people who have migrated out of the city of Leicester to suburban localities - posing new problems and challenges for themselves and the shire local authorities into which they have relocated.

Nick Jewson, Syd Jeffers and Virinder Kalra of the University of Leicester studied Asian families living in three localities Syston, Thurmaston and Birstall. The findings are derived from a total of 252 short interviews and 75 in-depth interviews. The multi-lingual team of interviewers was led by Manjeet Tara. Herbans Kaur, currently in the Admission Office, was also among the interviewers.

All these areas have experienced recent outward migration from the City of Leicester by members of the Asian communities, said Mr Jewson.

The study highlights the needs and problems of Asian elders who have relocated from inner urban areas where there are often substantial community facilities and culturally appropriate social care services to suburban localities in which they are relatively isolated.

It also examines the challenges faced by shire local authorities and providers of services that have not previously experienced substantial and rapidly increasing Asian populations.

The University study found:

  • Growth of numbers of older Asian people in these areas (Syston, Thurmaston, Bristol) suggests a growth in potential demand for social care services sensitive to ethnic minority needs
  • Older Asian people are making little use of formal social care services at present
  • Both carers and the elderly have low levels of awareness of available services and how to access them
  • Family members are heavily involved in providing informal care
  • There is a demand for local services that were culturally appropriate, particularly with regard to language, diet and religious observance.
  • Mr Jewson added: Many of the older people we interviewed were happy, independent and active. Family support was clearly effective in our research area.

    It would be wrong, however, to assume that there were no problems or needs to be addressed. Social isolation among older people was an issue in some households. This was particularly the case when the social networks of older people had been disrupted as a result of moving to the suburbs or older people spent long periods alone.

    We also encountered a few households in which the main burden of caring for an older person fell on just one family member. In these circumstances, the carer could feel very isolated and stressed.

    The project was funded by Leicestershire Social Services and the Department of Health. and is part of a national Department of Health project to improve services to black older people.

    NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Nick Jewson on 252 2749.

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