Supporting South Asian Communities to Live Well with Dementia

My reason for wanting to support people to live well with dementia goes beyond my personal story.

As I progressed in my career, the lack of resources and information available to South Asian communities about dementia became apparent. Especially because I was given an example by an amazing lady of how it should be done. Meet Harjinder Kaur, my mother.

Harjinder Kaur, retired Community Psychiatric Nurse – Asian Link

My mother spent many years as a Community Psychiatric Nurse in Wolverhampton and noticed an obvious gap in the system – the lack of referrals from the South Asian community. Following the tragic death of my brother in 2001, she joined forces with Dementia UK (then Fordementiaplus) to build a business case for a specialist Asian service. This research, entitled Twice a Child 1 made evident the need for dementia services for the South Asian community in Wolverhampton. She was promoted to Specialist Practitioner – Asian Link.

Due to the lack of awareness and stigma of dementia, mum had to work exceptionally hard to reach the community and build trust and rapport. She set up information stands a at local temples and community centres, produced audio tapes explaining what dementia is in Punjabi and Hindi and gave talks at almost every event she attended. These are just a few of the activities she undertook as part of her role. By 2006, she had a caseload of 88 South Asian people living with dementia. This continued to increase via new referrals which varied from 25 to 40 new cases per year.

Shameless to say, I actually didn’t know about any of this work until the final year of my undergraduate degree (some 5 years later) when I undertook a community project placement at Dementia UK to update their research and produce the third edition of the Twice a Child series. I interviewed South Asian carers about their experiences of services in Wolverhampton and I couldn’t believe the difference she was making to people’s lives. I just remember thinking ‘wow… this is my mum. How did I not know any of this?’ I guess as a consequence of my brother’s death and my dad’s poor mental health as a result of it, we just went auto-pilot and got caught up – that, coupled with the fact that my mum never brought her work home.

Sadly, towards the end of my PhD mum took early retirement (not sad for her after 42 years of service) and I saw a massive loss to Wolverhampton. Her passion and drive to help others was sadly not replaced. She does however; continue to support people in the local South Asian communities in accessing help for Mental health problems through voluntary community work. She is also a presenter for a local South Asian radio station and has a weekly ‘Health is Wealth’ programme by way of continuing education and support in dementia care.

As I learned more about dementia and it’s impact on people, families and communities, the same passion and drive developed in me – with the added passion of wanting to carry on my mums work and legacy on a much wider scale. My 15 years experience of working in this field has given me skills to support policy makers, and health and social care services to meet the needs of people living with dementia from culturally diverse communities through:

  • Education and Training whereby I develop and deliver bespoke courses, both face-to-face and online, based on the latest research and evidence-based practice.
  • Consultancy to support policymakers, and health and social care providers to better meet the needs of people from culturally diverse communities.
  • Research to help identify the needs of culturally diverse communities
  • Media to widen my reach

My primary goal is to support people from culturally diverse communities to live well with dementia and ensure that they have fair access to services and high quality, person-centred dementia care.

To get in touch with me you can:

  • Fill out a contact form
  • Email me: hello@drjutlla.com
  • Message me directly on any of my social media platforms:
  • Instagram and Facebook: @drkaranjutlla
  • Linked In: Dr Karan Jutlla
  • Twitter: @JutllaK

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