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Respecting cultural needs
Health care is important for all patients and it is important to ensure that any disparities that may exist have been done away with. Culture is an important part of one’s identity, there is need to respect the beliefs, and language of others and this is not a basis for denying one care. In the US, about 37 million people speak a native language as their first language. Language barriers in health care may lead to patient dissatisfaction, poor comprehension, adherence, and lower quality of care. Moreover, lack of cultural competence may lead to patient dissatisfaction.
There are a number of guidelines from professional organizations, which may help promote cultural competence. A number of professional organizations representing an appreciable portion of health professionals have played an active role in promoting culturally competent practices through policies, research and training efforts. The American Medical Association provides information and resources on policies, publications and training materials. One of the most comprehensive guidelines, however, is the one developed by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, which provides curriculum material to teach cultural competence to family medicine and other health care professionals (Instiutute, 2020).
The guidelines focus on a number of areas first being creation of awareness of the influences that sociocultural factors have on patients, clinicians and the clinical relationship. Second is the willingness to make clinical settings more accessible to patients and acceptance of the health care professionals of their responsibility to understand the cultural aspects of health and illness. Moreover, another key consideration is the respect and tolerance for cultural differences and the recognition of personal biases against people of different cultures.
Despite there being guidelines that various health care professionals may use, there are accreditation standards, which are an important tool in improving cultural competence of all professionals. This can be seen from what the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) has done in mandating higher standards for curriculum material on cultural competence. This has led to medical schools having to provide students with the skills to understand how people of diverse cultures perceive certain illnesses and respond to the various diseases.
These standards and guidelines have slowly found their way into the cultural practice where health systems have begun to adopt comprehensive strategies to respond to the needs of racial and ethnic minorities. There has been an increase in the number of state and federal guidelines that encourage greater responsiveness of health systems to the growing diverse population (Instiutute, 2020). Moreover, health systems are slowly finding that implementing cultural competence strategies is good business practice that increases the interest and participation of both providers and patients in the creation of health care plans among the racial and ethnic minorities.
It is important for the standards, which have been put in place to be adhered since not doing, do would lead to the disenfranchisement of many ethnic and racial minorities, which is a violation of their human rights since it is the perpetuation of discrimination.
Improving awareness of cultural needs of patients
More knowledge is needed about the different approaches that can be adopted to increase cultural competence. One of the ways through which once can improve cultural competence in the hospital environment is by improving communication for example engaging in cross-cultural interactions with patients (Kaihlanen, 2019). This will ensure that each patient is understood as a unique person and nurses can therefore be able to explore patient beliefs, values and needs in order to build effective relationships with them.
Another method that can be adopted is through encouraging participation in online chats and networks. These platforms can have a great influence on improving nurses’ cultural competency and cultural awareness and they may be kept up to date.
Effect of organizational culture on cultural needs education
As has been highlighted above, a number of organizations have taken steps in ensuring that they adopt culturally sensitive policies. Organizations have similarly ensured that policies that reduce administrative and linguistic barriers to health care are adopted for example the Asian Counselling and Referral Services (ACRS) tries to provide bilingual and bicultural clinicians that match the client’s backgrounds and when this is not possible, trained staff are provided. This has ensured that mental health is not denied to various minorities due to the fact they cannot understand the importance of such care. A number of unique challenges are faced by people who speak a foreign language is that they may at times not be satisfied with the care they receive or see no need for it, however, if institutions are accommodating towards them, disparities in health care will be done away with.
This cultural change despite having to do away with the organizational culture is beneficial for the organization in the end because it has ensured client satisfaction.
Critical elements for meeting cultural needs
In order to meet patient cultural needs, there has to be self-awareness and awareness of others; open attitude; and cultural knowledge. Without these, cultural competency may not be effectively possible.
Instiutute, H. P. (2020). Cultural Competence in Health Care: Is it important for people with chronic conditions? Georgia University.
Kaihlanen, A.-M. (2019). Increasing cultural awareness: qualitative study of nurses’ perceptions about cultural competency training. BMC Nursing.
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