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Meet Baljinder Singh Rana

How ‘Tony’ is Helping Change Perceptions of Care in the Sikh Communities

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Meet Baljinder Singh Rana

How ‘Tony’ is Helping Change Perceptions of Care in the Sikh Communities

Baljinder Singh Rana – or simply ‘Tony’ – is a remarkable man.

Throughout his life, Tony – a British-born Sikh – has championed inclusivity and accessibility. And been involved in all manner of charitable work.


In 2017, he won the British Empire medal for his work in inclusivity in football. He’s also the Safeguarding Officer for his local gurdwara temple, and an integral part of the Kent County Association Inclusivity Group.


And now, Tony’s working alongside ellenor to meet the home care needs of patients – particularly those from Asian backgrounds – throughout the Kent community.

Tony’s care journey began back in 2015, when Tony’s son, Darminder, came into his custody. Darminder has a learning disability and suffers from Epilepsy, and Tony – seeking out information from a prominent charity in that space – was asked by the organisation to become a trustee.

A lifelong telecommunications professional in the corporate world, it was Tony’s first brush with the non-profit sector – but it would change the course of his career, and life, forever.

Learning more about home care, Tony decided to go into business for himself. To provide care for elderly patients, from their own homes in the Kent community, as well as respite care for adults with learning disabilities – a cause particularly close to his heart.

In March 2020, on the eve of COVID-19, Sambhana Care was born. And, though that first year of business was (understandably) tough, the business began to go from strength to strength. But then in 2022, Sambhana – in Tony’s words – “hit a brick wall”.

Fuel prices sky rocketed, and carers – unable to absorb the increased costs of getting around – left in their droves. In just a month, Sambhana’s staff numbers had taken a huge hit.

But Sambhana had survived the pandemic – and it could handle another crisis. Plus, what looked to have been a dark cloud soon showed a remarkably silver lining.


Because the staff’s demographic profile started changing. The company’s makeup, which prior to 2022 had been mostly White British carers, began to shift – and soon, Asian carers made up the majority of Sambhana’s workforce.


And before long, this shift had expanded to encompass not only Sambhana’s staff – but its patients, too. Now, Sambhana is an Asian-owned company, staffed by Asian carers, providing vital care to the Asian community – from their own homes throughout Gravesham, .


And, as Tony explains, that’s important.


“Our carers know the cultural backgrounds of our patients. They speak the language, and understand where the families we care for are coming from; their mentality.


“That makes a huge difference.”


As Tony explains, this shared cultural understanding means Sambhana’s carers are able to quickly build relationships with patients and families. Particularly in families where older generations may not speak English – and may, therefore, struggle to relate to or resonate with White British carers – this is of crucial importance. Especially, as Tony explains, when you consider Sikh attitudes towards – and awareness of – external care.


“In the Sikh community, there’s a lack of awareness of what’s out there when it comes to home care. People are very protective over their parents – they don’t always want someone else coming into their home to care for them. After all, it’s hard to have someone else enter your home and change a pad on your mum; your dad.”

So – how did Tony cross ellenor’s path?


Well, as a hospice providing care for patients in the final few days and weeks of their life, ellenor’s nurses enter the homes of Sambhana patients at the end-of-life stage. ellenor’s nurses also provide clinical support to Sambhana patients: administering medication, and supporting Sambhana’s nurses.


Sambhana, in turn, also supports ellenor – particularly in caring for Asian patients and families. Sambhana also refers patients to ellenor.


Tony first spotted the opportunity to collaborate at a meeting ellenor hosted in the community.


“ellenor needed more carers, and I have an abundance of carers – especially in the Asian community. ellenor, and its nurses, are absolutely fantastic; and so professional.


“So I started thinking. Not only about how we could help each other, but also about how we could highlight ellenor’s services to the Asian community – particularly when it comes to end of life care. ”


This last point is particularly important, Tony explains. Especially given Sikh attitudes of avoidance – of a lack of acceptance towards – end-of-life care. 


“When it comes to end-of-life care in the Sikh community, everything’s behind closed doors. They don’t shun it, exactly; they just don’t want to highlight what someone close to them is going through. The family, or the individual, withdraws.”


It’s something Tony is on a mission to change. For the existing population of 16,000 Sikhs throughout Gravesham, Medway, and Dartford – and those to come.


“Families often aren’t aware of the processes they have to put in place when a family member is nearing the end of their life,” he says. “But I signpost people: tell them where they need to go to get this or that, and who to go to for help.”


“To Sikh families out there with elderly or ailing relatives, I say – you need to have these kinds of discussions with your parents at some point. They’re hard. But it’s crunch time.”

Sambhana means, in the Sikh language, ‘to care’, and it’s evident that Tony does – in more ways than one.


Though his commitment to the community and love of football, he’s working to combat racism and prejudice. Through his partnership with ellenor, he’s working to raise awareness of the charity’s vital services throughout Kent and Bexley – and help change Sikh perceptions of external, and end-of-life, care.


And, through his company, he cares for the elderly, and ensures people with learning disabilities – and their families – get the support they deserve.


“There’s one Asian man we look after who, when we took him on, wouldn’t leave the sofa. COVID-19 had made him a recluse; he just sat in his living room all day. Fast-forward six months, and that same man was on a flight to India!


“It’s amazing what a bit of the right care can do. You can change people’s lives and I am looking forward to continuing to work together with ellenor to promote conversations about end of life.”