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Equal Rights/Equal Access—Improving the Care of Minority Ethnic Children with Disability or Chronic Illness. A Training Package.
  1. MELANIE EPSTEIN, Specialist registrar

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    Equal Rights/Equal Access—Improving the Care of Minority Ethnic Children with Disability or Chronic Illness. A Training Package. Produced by the Department of Child Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, 1996. ISBN 1-899717-05-6. The package is available from Joanne Plummer, Department of Child Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF4 4XN, price £105.75. Anyone wishing to buy the package must attend the ‘Equal Rights/Equal Access’ course; for further information contact Joanne Plummer at the above address or on phone 01222 743375.

    As paediatricians consider making services more child and family friendly, we come up against political issues such as inequality of care, the needs of minorities, and different cultural views. Having trained and worked in South Africa, I am only too aware of the impact such issues have on health care provision. The authors’ viewpoint is that we live in a multicultural society and need to be aware of people’s cultural background, at the same time recognising that cultures are mixing and changing and that all individuals are different in what has shaped their lives. We have a responsibility to take account of these factors in our work.

    This manual was produced under the auspices of the Access to Black and Minority Ethnic Children with Disability Project in South Glamorgan. It details a six hour training course designed to be run by two trainers who between them have experience in training, race awareness, and disability in childhood. The emphasis is on promoting the understanding of multicultural practice, the impact of racism on service delivery, and the development of sensitive and non-judgmental attitudes. It is designed for professionals from various disciplines working with children with disability.

    The authors have creatively and sensitively put together a format on how to run the course as well as the subject matter, allowing some flexibility to take account of local circumstances. Such a package of planning details, handouts, and overheads would be most welcome in other teaching that I do. The shifts in the course from discussion to group activities and video clips with suitably ethnic music, kept my attention and interest.

    I particularly liked some of the examples relating to my own experience including the doctor asking for the child’s ‘Christian’ name; the father who does not believe that a woman paediatrician can be the ‘real doctor’; exercises highlighting our prejudices or expectations when we think we are taking ethnic issues into account and the trap of cultural stereotyping. The handouts raise issues such as poverty, and particularly pleasing is that they offer solutions, such as a comprehensive strategy for health service personnel including recommendations for managers and commissioners.

    Reviewing this manual from the material provided without having participated in the training, is a bit like deciding to buy a car based on the manufacturers’ sales pitch, without having had the chance to test drive the car. These manufacturers may highlight the background research and the de-luxe features but the vital factor is to know whether the performance matches the specifications. I do however feel strongly tempted to buy.

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