Embracing ethnic diversity within our retirement living communities

28 July 2022

by Inti Popat, Head of Retirement Living, MHA


It was a privilege to be asked to be a member of a discussion panel at the ‘ARCO – What Next’ conference 2022, in a session looking at diversity and inclusion: embracing ethnic diversity and elevating value in integrated retirement communities.

During the session, I brought both my professional and personal experience to the discussion, being from a South Asian background and as a senior leader at MHA in my role as Head of Retirement Living.

MHA operates in areas of the country where the communities we serve have large minority populations. I also have previous experience working for a specialist Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) organisation that housed older people from minority communities.

From my own personal perspective, in my own family and the wider South Asian communities, the approach we have to care for ageing parents is changing. We are seeing a movement away from multi-generational households due to social mobility and a cultural shift. Parents/relatives living in large family homes are now becoming too big and, in some instances, unsuitable for them to upkeep. They are challenged by social isolation and loneliness too.

As a country, we have an ageing population. We also have an ageing ethnic minority community whose housing needs need to be met to support them downsizing or rightsizing.

How can we achieve this successfully in the housing sector as a whole? We must provide integrated retirement communities that deliver services which meet the cultural and religious housing needs of our older ethnic minority population.

There is a need to provide a range of housing options that encourage people to move to housing that more appropriately supports their needs.

We support our residents by ensuring we are a part of the community and have partnership arrangements that work both with our MHA Communities groups across the UK and local services, who use facilities on site to support the provision of culturally appropriate services to our residents.

For example, at MHA Bradley Court in Huddersfield, we are supporting a large community of Afro-Caribbean older people that have decided to move into our retirement living scheme from the wider community.

We have much more to do, however, in closing the gap between meeting the needs of ethnically diverse residents and becoming attractive to residents in the communities we operate in.

Our EDI strategy and Race for Change staff network are just a couple of ways in which we’re helping to achieve this goal by continually developing our organisation’s understanding of the needs of the diverse people we employ and serve.

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