Nubian Life – delivering culturally appropriate daycare

Browne J (2023) Nubian Life – delivering culturally appropriate daycare. Journal of Dementia Care 31(5)25-26

Author details

Jazz Browne is chief executive of the Nubian Life Resource Centre

Nubian Life’s intercultural approach depends on principles of cultural competence, person-centred care and co-production. Jazz Browne describes the vital work of this thriving community hub in west London.

Key Points

  • There are three core principles: cultural competence, person-centred care and co-production
  • Person-centred care draws on cultural traditions and individual needs
  • “The Club” reinforces the home from home experience – a place where people feel secure, happy, and engaged
  • Clients can continue to attend even after moving into residential care
  • Developing circles of support strengthens our care offer

Nubian Life is an established specialist provider of culturally specific activity-based care, with over 25 years of experience in the adult social care sector. Our service extends to clients with complex needs such as dementia, long-term health conditions, physical disabilities, sensory impairments and mental health issues.

We have been at the forefront of developments in the adult social care and community sectors, collaborating with a range of organisations to deliver innovative projects that have improved service provision and shaped guidelines for best practice. Our efforts give voice to the specific needs of Black and Asian older people accessing statutory and community services. We pride ourselves on our unique approach to person-centred care, drawing on cultural traditions and individual needs.

Our intercultural approach to care at Nubian Life is based on three core principles: cultural competence, person-centred care, and co-production. We are acutely aware of the unequal and disproportionate health and social care outcomes for our demographic and therefore develop activities and partnerships at local and wider strategic levels to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes.

The aim of our service has always been to create a home-from-home experience within the day care setting. The familiarity of dialect, the sound of music as you enter the building each day, meals at lunchtime reflecting traditional tastes, the security of being around people who understand you and your cultural needs, all support a sense of safety that should be included in the design, delivery, and most importantly, the commissioning of services.

Our activities are co-designed with clients, focusing on keeping them socially active and connected to the wider community. The day care service has been fondly renamed “The Club” by clients, and for us, that means that the day centre is a place where they feel secure, happy, and engaged.

Members of Nubian Life taking part in Side-by-side cycling, computer classes and Hammersmith and Fulham Windrush Celebration.

We deliver a range of activities that reflect the interests of our clients. For example, last summer, we spent the day horse racing at Newmarket, clients tried side-by-side cycling, and one client now uses the side-by-side taxi service to attend local appointments.  This summer, clients have requested trips to the theatre, horseracing and the Oval cricket ground, and one client wants to learn to swim. It is essential that older people have something to look forward to each day, that they are supported to maintain skills and interests, and, if they want, to develop new interests.

While Nubian Life is not a dementia service, 65% of our clients are living with dementia at various stages. Using a person-centred approach enables us to get to know our clients as individuals. Staff across the team, from transport to day care to catering, develop a working knowledge of each client, so the approach is consistently personalised. It is therefore a natural process to care for the individual, not just their condition.

We believe it is essential to have supportive relationships with carers, other family members, and referring agencies. Developing circles of support strengthens our care offer and provides support to carers (in some cases 24-hour advocacy) when the caring role becomes challenging or when they find it difficult to navigate services.

A unique element of person-centred care is that your service grows, moves, and changes with the client group. Presently, our client age range is 67-99. A client will age with the service and often spend five or more years in our care. This means that our clients rarely leave the service unless they become chronically ill or pass away.

Years ago, we advocated for clients placed in residential care to still be able to attend the day centre. Social services deemed the care homes “able to meet all their needs”, but we argued that it is harmful and unacceptable to cut an older person off from their friends/peer group (particularly if they are living with dementia). Nubian Life knows from experience that older people from Black and Asian backgrounds are less likely to have their cultural needs met within care homes and are more likely to experience isolation and loneliness.

Delivering a person-centred care model is undoubtedly resource-intensive (staffing, transport, equipment, training, etc.). However, the benefits of keeping older people healthy, engaged, and within the community are achievable and can be cost-effective. But this requires statutory, health, and third-sector organisations to work together as a holistic model, not in silos that create unnecessary competition and unconsciously allow gaps to occur, so as to provide fully inclusive provision.

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