In sociology, a group is considered a minority if they have a smaller population within a community and suffer from disadvantages compared to one or more dominant social groups. The characteristics that are based on defining a particular group as a minority are characteristics that can be directly observed, such as Ethnicity, Sex, Religion, etc. Therefore, if a group of people of a particular ethnicity lives in a region where their numbers are lower than that of one or more other ethnicities and suffer disadvantages, then that specific group is called an ethnic minority (Laurie and Khan, 2017). The dominant ethnic group in the UK currently are Caucasians, who make up 87.2% of the entire population. British Africans and British Indians represent 3% and 2.3% of the UK population, respectively and therefore classify as ethnic minorities. British Pakistani is another ethnic minority group that takes 1.9% of the population. 2% of British citizens are of mixed ethnicities, and the rest, 3.7%, are made up of other much smaller ethnic minorities such as Chinese, South East Asians, Arabs, etc. (Indexmundi.com, 2019; Irr.org.uk, 2019).
The term ‘Integrated Care” is the name of a system that seeks to improve patients’ experience in accessing healthcare and make the whole process much more efficient and effective. The goal here is fragmentation in healthcare services to the patients such as dental healthcare, mental health counselling, medical care, etc. and bring the services and practitioners in one location and ensure cooperation among them in regards to treating the patient which allows for the overall healthcare of the patient to be more coordinated and more continuous. This is especially crucial for ageing patients who often suffer from multiple chronic diseases related to one another. In other words, integrated care is simply improving the patient’s experience by ensuring a certain level of coordination among the relevant healthcare disciplines and delivering a more efficient and holistic approach. Integrated care is established with various systems and models that tie together existing healthcare services (Shaw, Rosen and Rumbold, 2011). This concern for the integration of healthcare systems has existed for quite some time. In order to begin with, multidisciplinary care had been a matter of discussion starting from the 1960s. In comparison, the partnering of different healthcare professionals for better service was a concept that dates back to the 70s. The following two decades of the 80s and 90s had seen a surge of services like disease management and shared care. These concepts of integration of healthcare services of different foundations and values are tied together and expressed under the umbrella term of ‘Integrated Care’ (Stein and Reider, 2009). In the 2000s, the Labour Government had expressed concerns for integration in the healthcare sector that the services can be more effective and efficient for the patients. This has sparked projects like ‘Patient-Centred Care’, ‘Integrated Care Pathways’, and ‘Shared Decision-Making’. These initiatives aligned the medical, clinical and managerial services related to healthcare for patients with multiple or long-term health conditions (Shaw, Rosen and Rumbold, 2011).
The health status of ethnic minorities in the UK is vital to the country’s indicator of social integration when analysed with factors such as housing, employment, education, etc. Furthermore, the quality of healthcare for these minority groups directly correlates to their quality of life (Spencer & Cooper, 2006). Existing research on the health status of ethnic minorities in the UK mainly focuses on the population born in the UK and has minimal data on the condition of minorities who are immigrants. (Piachaud, Bennett, Nazroo, & Popay, 2009; Fitzpatrick, Jacobson, & Aspinal, 2005). The small amount of data regarding the health of migrants tells us that they experience a good quality of healthcare when they first arrive, but that worsens as time goes by. A study conducted in 2009 had shown noticeable inequality in the treatment and outcome of diabetes in the UK for people of Irish and Pakistani origin. However, the study also established that such disparities do not exist for all the minority groups but rather for a select few. The discrepancy of ethnic populations regarding high cholesterol and hypertension conditions has not been documented sufficiently by government efforts, so this field has insufficient data (Nazroo et al., 2009).
According to WHO, health is defined as ‘‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity’’ which is considered the universal definition of health. Therefore, it is pretty apparent how the health status of a particular population almost directly indicates the quality of life that group leads (Karimi and Brazier, 2016). Ethnic minorities in the UK, particularly those who are immigrants from 3rd world countries, suffer a particular set of disadvantages compared to the dominant Caucasian population when it comes to access and afford certain healthcare services. Additionally, the lifestyle and diet of these populations make them prone to a multitude of diseases and health conditions. Due to the socio-economic state of a good portion of this population, mental illnesses and depression are some significant issues that tie into their overall health. Often, these populations, due to their background, are unaware and ignorant of some of their health issues (Leung and Stanner, 2011). This means that integrated care is a system that can critically address these specific concerns and needs of ethnic minorities. The coordinated approach and the assessment of the patient across a multitude of medical disciplines allow the minority patient a comprehensive experience of receiving treatment that he or she might not have been able to receive in a traditional fragmented setting of healthcare services. So by analysing the impact of integrated healthcare on the quality of life of ethnic minorities, it is possible to identify to what extent the ethnic minority groups need comprehensive healthcare, what sort of services they required but were not getting outside the integrated approach and whether specific healthcare sectors foster inequality. This information can then be used to tailor the medical services better and address critical areas of concern for the wellbeing of ethnic minorities and lead a better life as more capable and functional citizens of the United Kingdom.
3.0 Aims and Objectives
This report aims to find out just how much of an impact the integrated care system has on the quality of life of the ethnic minorities living in the UK. So we can phrase the research question as “To what extent the integrated care system can influence the wellbeing of ethnic minorities of the UK?” This research question seeks to uncover the magnitude of the positive effect of integrated healthcare so that the information can be used to make vital policy decisions regarding minority wellbeing. To further expand upon the research question and to provide additional input, the report will have the following objectives:
- To detect the critical healthcare concerns of ethnic minorities that were not satisfactorily dealt with outside the integrated care system.
- To outline the specific benefits received from integrated care
- To define the specific ways by which integrated healthcare is affecting the quality of life of ethnic minorities
- To suggest policies and actions related to healthcare that can improve the well-being of ethnic minorities
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