Elderly and End of Life Care for Muslims in the UK

In a follow-up to MCB’s landmark “British Muslims in Numbers” report, this August 2019 report “Elderly and End of Life Care for Muslims in the UK” sheds light on the growing demands of Elderly Care in British Muslim communities. It has been produced in collaboration with the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. The report calls for an urgent need for awareness and investment by Muslim civil society working together with public services to prepare for the increasing number of elderly Muslims in the coming decades.

Key report findings:

  • The number of Muslims aged 65 and over is estimated to increase from 110,000 in 2011, to 450,000 by 2036.

  • 38% of Muslim women aged 65 and above self-declared having bad or very bad health. There are persisting health gaps amongst elderly Muslims – especially women.

  • Evidence in this report points to a ‘schism between the current model of end of life care and the health needs of religious and ethnic communities.’ Demand for increased access to care by the elderly is not being met in a timely way. Elderly Muslims may not ask for services due to perceptions of being a burden, lack of awareness of due rights, lack of information.

  • Faith-Based Organisations can bring both ‘soft’ and ‘hard skills’ to the table in co-production with the care agencies e.g., addressing social isolation, but also running health screening programmes.

  • Women are traditionally carers but support is needed to balance educational ambitions and career aspirations, with elderly care responsibilities for family members

For any queries, please get in touch here.

Report launch:

The report was launched at City Hall, London on 28th August 2019 to a packed audience of practitioners and interested community members

Key quotes

Dr Shuja Shafi, former Secretary General of the MCB said, “while the country is facing profound challenges in the provision of elderly and end of life care, the problem is more pronounced for religious and ethnic-minority communities.  The need of the hour is for collaborative work – authorities with faith-based organisations; faith-based organisations sharing project experiences; service provider with users.”

“This MCB report is a catalyst  for discussions involving social entrepreneurs, the charity sector, philanthropists and the public services for investment to address future needs of a growing population of elderly Muslims within the British Muslim population.”

In the analysis of the experiences of palliative and end of life care services, Dr. Mehrunisha Suleman, the study’s Cambridge lead observes “there is a schism between the current model of end of life care and the health needs of religious and ethnic communities – an unmet need, amongst Muslims, of end of life care.”

“This is reflected in poor uptake of advanced care planning and hospice services, including community-based services and on-site care. Imams and mosque leadership should  raise issues of death and dying and the services on offer.

What happens next

Following publication of the report, the MCB ReDoc (Research & Documentation) team is planning for further work including:

  • Producing an online resource portal providing information for Muslim elderly and their carers with sign-posting to appropriate agencies and further resources.
  • Responding to consultations by the Department of Health & Social Care in this area.
  • Direct advocacy work to influence policy-makers e.g. in the NHS
  • Organising round tables bringing together social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and donors to outline potential business models through which elderly care provision can be financed, at both an individual level as well as care home establishment.

For find out more about this project, for any queries or to get involved, please get in touch here.

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