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Māori and Dementia: Māori health professionals’ perceptions of dementia, support offered and suggested improvements

E iti noa ana, nā te aroha (It is the giving that counts and not the size of the gift) The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the perceptions of Māori health professionals about Māori elders and dementia. The study aimed to describe: Māori health care providers’ understandings of dementia; traditional versus contemporary understandings; how cultural beliefs affect experience; how Māori cope with dementia; key issues relevant to Māori people with dementia; and how services can be improved to meet the needs of aged Māori. The usefulness and possible cultural adaptation of the biomedical model has been explored within the context of a Māori worldview and the perceptions of participants. Semi-structured and in-depth interviews were conducted with eight mental health professionals and one caregiver. The information gathered at interviews was recorded within verbatim transcripts, which were written and returned to the participants for feedback. A qualitative data analysis was carried out on the approved transcripts. The main findings suggest that Māori health professionals recognise that many Māori perceive dementia both from a traditional cultural perspective, associated with spirituality as well as a holistic understanding of wellness. Key issues identified by participants were: that there is fear associated with mental health facilities; the exclusion of cultural values and understandings from service providers is detrimental to the wellbeing of Māori elders; Māori do not understand the symptoms typically associated with dementia as an illness; there is a need for information and education within an appropriate frame for whānau; disjointed and multiple service providers inhibits Māori from accessing facilities offered; and that there is a real need for further services. It was considered important that mental health services are culturally appropriate, show respect for Māori values; are coordinated and sensitive; encourage and continue the development of a Māori mental health workforce; and further develop kaupapa Māori services for Māori elders. The main implication of this research is that further investigation into Māori and dementia is required. Recommendations are made with a view towards better addressing some of the mental health needs of Māori elders. 
Type of thesis
Townsend, M. (2011). Māori and Dementia: Māori health professionals’ perceptions of dementia, support offered and suggested improvements (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5698
University of Waikato
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