Making personalisation work for the Chinese community in Liverpool

As the Chinese Wellbeing Service is added to TLAP’s Directory of Innovations in Community-Centred Support, we explore their personalised approach to cultural care. For personalisation to really work, we need to respond to the needs and preferences of different cultures and communities. This example of prevention/early intervention support to a local community deserves wider recognition by funders and commissioners to sustain and develop such services.

The Chinese Wellbeing Service (opens new window) is one of the providers doing just that. The service featured in TLAP’s report (opens new window)looking at what good community-based care and support looks like for people in ethnically diverse communities. We spoke to Di Burbidge, Service Development Manager to see how they do it…

‘Outstanding cultural care’, these are the three words I’d use to describe the ethos of the Chinese Wellbeing Service. We are rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, and cultural care is exactly what we deliver. 

As a small organisation, one of the things that helps us deliver this is being a close team, with a lot of respect for each other’s skill and abilities.

We don’t operate in silos, which you tend to find in a big organisation. It takes a lot of leadership in a big organisation to actually make you feel that you are all part of the same team, with the same vision.

We work in a smaller team, in a smaller organisation with a very clear focus. The people who work for our charity do so because they want to give back to their community. We hear this at every job interview and we actively recruit using values-based recruitment.

The individual is important to us. Within Chinese culture there are many different cultures and depending on where someone is from, their health beliefs will be different.

When doing our assessments we have someone who can understand the specific dialect so people’s needs can be understood. We start by asking them what they want from us – that is very important, how do they want us to care for them when we go in?

Traditionally care packages are always done on a ‘task and finish’ basis – you go in to do this and you tick the box, yes I’ve showered, dressed, given breakfast etc. But we spend time asking assessment questions, understanding what individuals really need, “what would you like us to cook? how would you like us to cook it?” for example. These are key questions – food is exceptionally important in Chinese culture.

When Covid-19 hit, there were new needs to be met. In the early days of the pandemic not all shielding guidance was translated, so we started doing that ourselves. We then secured some extra funding for this work and whenever there was a change to the guidelines we asked our care staff to stay an extra 15 minutes on home visits to just talk it all through, in this way we were able to support the community.

When we moved our Evergreen Club (opens new window) activity sessions online we wanted to make sure they would be accessible to anyone who was interested. With funding we were able to introduce a tablet loan scheme for people who didn’t have a device and managed to get funding for some internet connections too. We just wanted to make sure people stayed connected. For those who didn’t want to be online, we made phone calls every week and also doorstep visits, sometimes with food parcels.

Supporting people to do the sessions online took lots of instructional illustrations and phone calls, and staff still go round to individual homes to set them up, but this has really paid off.  We still run the hybrid model of activities now, we have the Monday session in a centre that we hire and then we run online activities through the week – arts and crafts, and our exercise session. 

One member of the Evergreen Club even won an art competition, and had her design painted as a mural in Liverpool’s Chinatown.

Our seniors really do appreciate the efforts of our team and they just have fun. That’s the main thing, that’s our aim - to help them to stay living independently at home for as long as possible. We deliver that, which is a statutory service, and also the wraparound, which is the emotional health and wellbeing.

The Chinese Wellbeing Service (opens new window) featured in TLAP’s ‘Personalisation in Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Communities’ report. To learn more about personalisation in these communities download a copy here (opens new window).


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