Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Cultural Competence in Healthcare

A rise in the nation‚Äôs diversity has brought both challenges and opportunities for healthcare systems and providers to deliver and create culturally competent services (GHPI, 2008, p. 2). Cultural competency is the aptitude of organizations and providers to provide health care services efficiently the cultural and social needs of patients. A culturally competent health care system aims at improving quality of care and health outcomes by addressing the ethnic and racial health differences (Kaiser, 2003, p. 6). Besides addressing the issues in these disparities, a cultural health care system also provides solutions to them in specific ways such as providing optimal care to patients regardless of people’s ethnic backgrounds, race or native languages, cultural and religious beliefs. It is also important to note that the phrase cultural competence was utilized first by Terry L. Cross together with his associates in 1989. Also, it was used again a decade later where medical care professionals began to gain formal education and training. Cultural competence subsequently developed as an academic field rooted in the remedial education program since then. This essay explores how cultural competency can be used efficiently and in a right manner when dealing with a person of a diverse background.

Cultural Values and Privileges

Cultural values are categorized as the assumptions, principles or beliefs that control the decision which people make and the various acts in the society (Walker, 2007, p. 3). Based on studies conducted, it has been discovered that there is significant agreement about values embraced and recognized by a substantial number of Australians although there is no particular value system to which all Australians subscribe. These values are classified as either being descriptions or prescriptions. Descriptive values are taken to depict an existing reality, reflecting how things are at present. It is easy to understand the benefits that best describe a particular culture or society undertaking broad observations of actual choices made by individuals as they do their day to day activities and making interpretations of these options as a replication of the underlying values.
The values are viewed as prescriptions by contrast which is meant to normative or ideal statements should be how things should be done (Reisinger & Dimanche, 2009, p. 122). This entails which things are wrong and right and what should be value in the excellent community. Prescriptive and descriptive views often create much confusion, and therefore, becomes hard for the people to understand and differentiate them. Cultural privileges is a particular right, immunity or advantage which is granted to an individual or a group of people in the country (Vass, 2014). In most cases, the privileges are awarded to those members who belong to a dominant team in the society.

Cultural Competence in the Health Sector

Having defined cultural competence and exploring different values and privileges making up the culture it will be appropriate to determine major cultural competencies in the health sector. The different cultural aspects of competence in the health sector have been illustrated in the following discussion;
Individualism entails the degree of interdependence people maintain among each other (Podrug et al., 2009, p. 2). It involves with whether people’s self- image being defined as an individual or a group of people. People in individualistic societies tend to take care of themselves with their direct families only while in collective society‚Äôs, individuals fit into categories and take care of each other in exchange for allegiance (Hofstede, 2011, p. 3). Australia is an extremely individualistic nation, and this transforms to a loosely-knit community where the anticipation is that people take care of themselves and their direct relatives.
In Australia, society is driven by the art of competition, success, and achievement. The aspect of masculinity is nurtured all through from the start of school, throughout the life of an individual and to the health sector. The factor is nurtured both when an individual is engaged in work and when pursuing leisure. However, the aspect of feminism has been viewed as the quality of life in the society. In this case, the quality of an individual life is seen as the success against standing out of the crowd (Bergiel et al., 2012, p. 72). In Australia, the nation scores 61% on masculinity dimension and is considered a more masculine-oriented society. The cultural value, in this case, is characterized by the fact that individuals endeavor to be the finest and become a winner. For this reason, Australian are proud of their success and achievements which have been propelled by this cultural value in the health sector.
Long-Term Orientation 
In this section, the culture acknowledges the history when dealing with the future and present challenges in the society (Rinuastuti et al., 2014, p. 144). The normative culture, in contrast, prefers to maintain the time-honored traditions and beliefs when viewing the change in the society. In Australia, the community exerts more pressure on the need for the population to live in the absolute truth where, they respect the traditions, and in most cases, their focus is more oriented in achieving the quick results. The dimension explains how every society maintains some links with their past dealings with the present and future challenges. Corporations tend to give priority to these two goals differently (Soares, 2007, p. 277). Normative cultures uphold time-honored practices and beliefs while viewing changes in the society. Australia is a normative culture as it scores 21 in the dimension and people have an intense apprehension with obtaining the complete truth. Great respect for tradition is considerably exhibited in Australia a little propensity for future saving and an effort for achieving quick results.

A reflection of the Cultural Practices

¬†¬† Cultural values, practices, and privileges have been evident in different clients and individuals in the health system. These values are reflected in my community‚Äôs day to day interaction in the health sector and therefore being everyone‚Äôs responsibility to uphold them. Organizations that practice cultural competence provide improved healthcare facilities, and there are mutual understanding and respect among the patients and persons also have amplified participation in the indigenous community (Health Research & Educational Trust, 2013, p. 3). Cultural competence reduces the cost and care disparities in organizations that put this into the application. Culturally competent healthcare organizations have been able to provide numerous benefits both for the patients and the society at large. Some of the social benefits include improved mutual respect and understanding among institutions and patients, improve trust and promotion of inclusion of all community members (Australian Government, 2005). The health benefits include enhanced health care, reduction of health care disparities in patient population and better collection of the patient’s data. It is therefore clearly evident that cultural competence is practiced in different healthcare institutions and organizations because of the improved health care provided and the recommendable results obtained.

Application of the Strength-Based Approach to Culturally Competent Care

The benefits of cultural values and privileges are great importance and are widely applicable to the health care system in Australia. However, several aspects have to be put into consideration in the application of the elements of cultural competence and such include:

  • Cultural sensitivity involves attitude and issues that affect others. A person’s perspective about themselves and others are directly relatable to their culture and their capability to explore areas that can lead to a deeper appreciation of their religion (Galanti, 2012, p. 2).
  • Culturally competent behaviors is an aspect entails carrying oneself in ways that demonstrate sensitivity and awareness to the needs of other cultures (King et al., 2010). It is important to note that cultural competence at a personal level exists only if it is practiced and developed in health care organizations (Beavers, 2011, p. 12).
  • Cultural awareness is concerned with a person‚Äôs understanding of how different cultures are similar and also different and the effect of the culture on people‚Äôs practices and beliefs. It is crucial to put into consideration how the culture mannerisms affect the health care systems (Hogg & Holland, 2010, p. 3).

Consideration of Cultural needs when delivering Culturally Competent care

Health care professionals encounter patients from different cultural backgrounds, and it is, therefore, crucial for a health expert to practice cultural competence during delivery of services (GHPI, 2008). Many social workers work in settings that offer services to immigrant and refugee clients, and the population of refugees is rapidly increasing in Australia.

Considering a non-English speaking refugee having arrived recently from a country at war with his partner and a young family.

In this case, several factors have to be put into consideration. In Australia for instance, the NSW Refugee Health Plan (2011-2016) has been a statewide plan meant to develop the well-being and health of refugees and people with refugee-like experiences in settling in Australia, New South Wales. This plan was to ensure that high-quality services were delivered and the through the specific refugee services through accessible linguistic and culturally competent conventional health services. The process of claims processing whereby the refugee undergoes an interview with the assistance of an interpreter could cause fear and trauma to the refugee. This process determines whether the individual is making a valid claim for to be a refugee. The health care professional has to also understand the needs of the client to plan for ways to deliver and evaluate the care. Such needs include things such as the health status and health care needs, mental health, family dynamics, their education, language and economic well-being and also their inter-ethnic interactions. The health officers should, therefore, plan on addressing such needs in case they come up through ways such as having an interpreter incase language barrier becomes a problem
It is important to have a deep exploration of the refugee’s culture, their beliefs, their religion and cultural background so that the healthcare officer will not do anything insensitive or against the refugee‚Äôs beliefs and practice. They should be culturally aware of the refugee’s history, and when approaching the client, the health officer should be in a joyful and welcoming mood to make the client feel at home. In case there is the case of a language barrier, an interpreter should be available to provide the right interpretations so that communication is effective. Suppose it is a refugee from a country experiencing civil wars, the officer should have knowledge of the current situation in the refugee country and they should be careful when addressing sensitive matters pertaining the refugee‚Äôs homeland. They have to avoid stereotyping the client from such countries and ethnicities with terrorism. They have also to treat them with respect and respect their opinions on different subjects during their conversations, and this provides a safe atmosphere for the client to open up when receiving the care. These refugees can also be referred to a psychiatrist in case they have mental trauma following the experience of moving to an entirely different country far from home and the people they knew. The health profession should create a good rapport during the interaction since the refugee might view the behavior of the officer as being the general behavior of people in the country.The diversity experienced in the nations’ health sector has brought about challenges which are related to the cultural competence, values, and privileges. The cultural values and privileges experienced in the Australia health society include the aspect of long-term orientation, power distance, and indulgence. The cultural values affect both the patients and the organization in matters related to cost and customer satisfaction. This is because a competent culture will reduce the healthcare disparities among people in the society. When delivering the culturally competent care, the key cultural needs to be considered include the language, cultural awareness, and cultural encounter. The observance of all the cultural diversities will help id deliver the best health care services to all patients irrespective of their race, color, ethnicity, economic status, and background.

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