The aim of ETNIMU activities is to secure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds with dementia get timely and accurate diagnosis.

The MMSE is the memory test most commonly used with people from ethnic minority backgrounds in Finland. The test is well suited to the native populations, but it falls short when used to map the situations of people from diverse ethnic minority backgrounds. To get the necessary information, the test needs to screen also for background information f.ex. about a person’s daily life, skills and social activities. Difficulties in language and insufficient understanding of the cultural specificities pose the biggest challenges to mapping. The social and health care professionals would benefit of an interpreter who can help them perceive the client’s possible memory problems and provide them assistance in memory test situations.

The pilot group of the Memory Interpreter training program has 17 participants of Estonian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Roma backgrounds. All participants are volunteers. The training program consists of a theory part that covers f.ex. general information about dementia, interpreting skills, confidentiality and GDPR. The training is completed by a practical session at a Memory Clinic. After completing the training, the memory interpreters act independently as interpreters in memory test situations and help the social and health care professional in their interactions with clients from different ethnic minority backgrounds.

ETNIMU activities have developed a unique training program in Finland that supports culturally sensitive memory work in co-operation with memory clinics, universities, as well as experts working in various fields. The Memory Interpreter training program and the working tools can be adapted to work with different language and cultural backgrounds and so help to secure timely and accurate diagnosis of dementia.

Siiri Jaakson