Cultural Competency is something that has relatively recently surfaced as an integral part of a healthy workplace. We have always encouraged employees to be considerate of others, but recently the world is beginning to realize the value of celebrating differences between cultures, ages, genders, and much more.

It is something that provides a standard of respect and dignity to every employee.

By educating ourselves regarding this crucial aspect of a healthy culture, we can join the ranks of sympathetic and kind workplaces.

Here at At Home Quality Care, we place a high value on understanding where an individual comes from. Our Caregivers, Clients, and office staff each come from unique and different backgrounds and situations. In our line of work, we want to to best understand where a person is coming from and empathize accordingly! In order to do this, we must respect and be aware of cultural norms and tendencies.

What is included when we speak of “cultural norms?” The following are examples of factors that contribute to the sensitivity behind being culturally competent:

  1. race

  2. ethnicity

  3. nationality

  4. language

  5. gender

  6. socioeconomic status

  7. physical and mental ability

  8. sexual orientation

  9. occupation

As we grow up, it becomes increasingly apparent that not everyone celebrates the same holidays or expresses their emotions in the same way. Different individuals talk in ways that are unfamiliar to us and dress in a manner we might not be used to. If we are culturally competent, we learn to ask respectfully about these differences, and get excited about learning more! In the process, we also learn to celebrate the differences.

Certainly these differences are very apparent in some cases, and it is not wrong to notice them. The issue usually occurs when we respond to them in a negative way. However, if we chose to notice and celebrate these differences, they can become a testimony to the beauty of diversity.

The more we become comfortable with celebrating different cultures, the more we can educate ourselves and help others to collaborate, even when coming from completely different backgrounds.

In the home care industry, it becomes crucial that each party involved in the care conversation is culturally competent. Come to the table with an open mind, and be ready to celebrate the differences between your culture and another! This can be the difference between a wonderful experience and a horrible one for all parties.

Practically, this can mean different actions in different scenarios.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for becoming a culturally competent individual. It requires discernment and care. Lucky for us, we’re in the business of caring for people in an excellent way! Some examples of cultural competency playing out include:

When relating with a Caregiver from a different culture, this sometimes means celebrating a different holiday with them. Maybe try a new food that is familiar to them! Ask them, don’t assume, their communication style and what communicates respect in the best way.

With a Client, it could mean learning more about their disability It also might entail asking about the country or part of the country that they grew up in. Find out about their family background and seek to empathize with the struggles they face as they age.

And lastly, for office staff, this means more that just staying away from insensitive racial slurs. It can mean asking individuals what they value about their position at the company.  Sharing another’s excitement in enjoying some music from when they were a kid. In the end, cultural competency really boils down to:

Consideration.

If you can consider someone else as the valuable person they are, you are well on your way to being culturally competent. Typically, this process starts with basic respect, and ends with understanding more about the person you are interacting with, and celebrating your differences.

Sometimes, it can be intimidating to be the new person in an office, a home, a church – you name it. But part of practicing hospitality means going out of your way to make someone who feels new or different feel included. Take a genuine interest in where they are coming from, and watch how bridges are built!

 

Sources:

Ihara , Emily. “Cultural Competence in Health Care: Is It Important for People with Chronic
Conditions?” Health Policy Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Feb. 2004,
https://hpi.georgetown.edu/cultural/.

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