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Barriers to health care
‘I do not ask for services, I would like to, but I don’t know what to request or how to initiate a request. I do not know who the service providing agencies are. I’m disabled and sitting at home’.
Disabled asylum seeking adult, taken from Harris, 2003
Lack of access to health care is one of the main barriers that refugees face
Refugees and asylum seekers may not know what services are available to them or that services may be different to those in their home country
Language barriers can cause great concern and misunderstanding for families, particularly if medical terms are misunderstood or do not exist in other languages. This is common with some learning disabilities and mental health problems
Be careful not to use too much terminology and jargon. Some terms are not recognised in other languages and can cause worry and confusion that can prevent families from accessing support, i.e. ‘GP’ may not be recognised, use ‘Doctor’ instead
In some cultures there is stigma surrounding particular types of ill health and disabiity. Differing views and attitudes between the health worker and the patient could impact upon treatment and support attained
Asylum seekers living with ill health and disability may not disclose health condition and any care needs, as they may fear that it could impact upon their asylum claim
Some asylum seekers live in extreme isolation. This can have a significant affect on their physical and mental health.
Barriers to health care could result in children and young people taking on further caring roles in the absence of adequate statutory service support.
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