As science and technology are making headway, the world is shrinking with each passing day. Rapid advancements in the communication and transportation fields have managed to break the boundaries that had once contained people to their places of birth. This has allowed people to travel to different parts of the world freely. This has enriched the diversity across the globe.
This coexistence of different cultures, religions, and ethnicities is affecting several facets of medical care. Today, it is not uncommon for an Asian caregiver to cater to the needs of a Native American or a Chinese nurse to look after their Latino patients. Although cultural problems arise, mutual acceptance and respect invalidate all the possible stigma and cultural miscommunications.
This brings us to the discussion of the importance of cultural awareness for caregivers.
What is cultural competency, and why is it important?
Providing the highest quality of care to someone depends on many factors; cultural competency is one of them. If you are not aware of your recipient’s background and culture, communicating and interacting with them can become toilsome.
Different cultures have different practices; for instance, Americans always emphasize the importance of telling the real prognosis to the patient, while other cultures like Mexican, Chinese, Iranian, and Filipino believe in a more discreet approach. Where many cultures do not disapprove of physical contact between a male caregiver and female recipient or vice versa, in Islamic culture, it is considered unacceptable.
If you aren’t aware of these cultural disparities, you may unintentionally offend the recipient or their family with your gesture.
How to practice culturally competent caregiving?
Generally, the home care agencies match the caregivers and recipients based on their cultures for maximizing comfort, but if you end up with a recipient from a different culture or ethnicity, do not let the cultural difference interfere with your services.
Here is how you can practice culturally competent caregiving-
- Steer clear from making assumptions
Culture, religion, country, or race doesn’t define a person; try to see every recipient as an individual, unfettered by these identity stereotypes.
Entertaining baseless presumptions about the recipient’s background will surely contaminate your services and conduct towards them.
- Respect the family’s preferences in healthcare practices
Several patients from the US or other countries prefer using traditional or alternative healthcare practices or medicines in conjunction with conventional medical treatment. If the family of the recipient wants to use other options in combination with the ongoing treatment, respect their preferences.
- Try to communicate well
Language is the biggest barrier that divides people from different cultures. If you are assigned to take care of someone from a different culture or country, do not let the language barrier affect the quality of your services.
Try to communicate well. Learn the common expressions in the recipient’s native language to catalyze your communication.
- Respect cultural differences regarding body language
It may seem strange but different cultures have different beliefs regarding body language. A common and harmless gesture like nodding the head up and down to show affirmation is considered rude in some cultures.
Also, be careful while shaking hands or making eye contact with your care recipient. Read a little about their culture in advance to avoid unnecessary troubles.
- Be receptive
Accept the differences and unique background of the recipient’s family, and respect their choices, practices, religious beliefs, and preferences.
There may be certain lifestyle choices that you may find unusual or downright weird, try to hold off judgements and accept how your recipient chooses to live their life.
Caregiving should always be above the concepts of religion, culture, and ethnicity. If you are dealing with a person from a different culture, do not let the differences overpower your services. A little cultural awareness and respect will help you provide amicable care to the recipient.