RICE is working with a group of University of Bath MSc students, working on a project with BEMSCA (Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizen Association).
BEMSCA is a charity that offers space where older people can meet and socialise with those from a similar ethnic background to themselves. Members can also access advice and information on a broad range of health, housing, and welfare issues, which can be a lifeline for people who do not speak English as their first language.
BEMSCA was founded in 1993 to provide advice and support to older members of the Black and Ethnic Minority community who felt their ethnic and cultural needs were not being acknowledged or understood. From its roots as a weekly lunch club, it now supports the needs of over 250 members from the Afro Caribbean, Chinese and Asian communities across Bath and North East Somerset. It runs a lively programme of activities to reduce isolation and loneliness; to keep members active while encouraging a sense of identity and community. They have created a haven, offering support advice and advocacy, in a culturally sensitive way.
Members can relax, enjoy new activities, make friends, and celebrate their national cultures and identity. It offers talks on a range of topics around health and wellbeing, plus runs classes on Tai Chi, gentle exercise, massage, singing, drumming, art and craft, to stimulate and entertain members. The mental wellbeing of their members is central to all the support work they provide. The befriending service ensures that members are appreciated and cared for, while also enabling them to remain independent at home or be cared for in the community. Due to the close working relationship, they have with members, they are first to see any changes in their mental health and act on this to ensure they are appropriately supported.
BEMSCA provides a safe and welcoming environment to celebrate cultural diversity. Members play an active role in developing the services and future priorities
- Members diagnosed with memory loss/dementia who are seen at the RICE clinic, or attending day service at Peggy Dodd, still come to BEMSCA. Because of the ways in which dementia is viewed in society, those who experience memory loss can be stigmatised and deprived of their rights.
- BEMSCA are able to use a different way of thinking about memory loss/dementia and engaging with cultural activities that stimulate memory. This is an attempt to put themselves in the shoes of people and their carers, to welcome and retain them in the community.
- All activities challenges contemporary negative perspectives on dementia, exploring ways to maintain independence and quality of life for the individual and support for the family\carer. Language, dialects and objects are very important in the understanding of the work done to support and empower the individual to be involved.