Culturagram: Developing and Implementing a Culturally and Ethnically Sensitive Family Assessment Tool for People Living with Dementia and their Families

Leader(s)Vincent Goodorally, Culture and Ethnicity, Dementia UK
LocationDementia UK, London
DurationDecember 2011 – March 2013
Received for PublicationMay 2014

Dementia is a progressive degenerative condition and at present there is no cure. There are currently about 800,000 people living with dementia in the United Kingdom (UK). Admiral Nurses, specialists in dementia care, provide practical and emotional support to people living with dementia and their carers in the community, care homes and hospitals. They are employed by host organisations (e.g. NHS/charities/private sector) but receive additional professional and practice development support from the charity, Dementia UK.

Whilst they strive to work in a culturally and ethnically sensitive manner, there is no family assessment tool which addresses these important issues in use in the UK to support practice. The Culturagram (Congress, 2008) was developed in the United States to help healthcare professionals to understand the cultural needs of patients and their families.

The Foundation of Nursing Studies’ Patients First Programme in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing supported a project to improve the experience of the assessment process for people living with dementia. The aim of the project was to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the Culturagram. A number of methods and approaches were used to achieve the project’s aim and facilitate changes in practice. These included engagement of stakeholders; interviews with people living with dementia and carers using emotional touchpoints; adapting the Culturagram and implementing it into practice and evaluating its use. Findings indicated that the modified Culturagram can be used with people from all backgrounds and positive feedback was received from both staff and service users. The project leader observed that staff, people living with  dementia and carers struggled with the word ‘culture’ as a concept; phrases  like ‘to better understand you as a person and support you’ facilitated engagement with the assessment process in a more effective way. The emotional touchpoint technique used was a powerful way of giving people living with dementia and carers a voice to express their experiences. The project also raised awareness of culture and ethnicity beyond dementia care, for example people with other health needs.

This project was supported by the Foundation of Nursing Studies Patients First Programme in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

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