Healthcare: Cultural Competence
High quality and patient-centered care determines how healthcare is delivered and received by patients. The two aspects also directly influence how healthcare professionals, systems, and disparities comply and increase disparities to improve care quality and patient satisfaction. Cultural competency, therefore, improves qualities of healthcare services. Consequently, patient satisfaction is enhanced as healthcare providers deliver culturally competent care. Moreover, job satisfaction among healthcare professionals increases. Ultimately, healthcare facilities attain high staff retention rates. Cultural competent models of health care, therefore, should be identified to deliver quality, patient-centered, safe, timely, and equitable care effectively and efficiently. The research, therefore, will discuss how cultural diversity and competence influence delivery of healthcare.
Healthcare: Cultural Competence
Culture refers learned patterns of behavior. It can also refer to a range of beliefs and behavior that people or communities pass down to successive generations. Thus, culture encompasses the values, rules, norms, and beliefs institutions share to construct effective and efficient physical worlds. Conversely, competence refers to behaviors reflecting appropriate application of attitude, skills, knowledge, and experience. Healthcare providers ought to be learned, skilled, and experienced to deliver quality and safe care. As a result, they should also learn to attain cultural competence by engaging in assistive, facilitative, and supportive cultural beliefs, responsibilities, norms, and values ensuring patients receive safe and quality care (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Thus, healthcare providers should demonstrate the right skills, attitude, and behavior enabling them to work, associate, and help people from diverse backgrounds. For example, care providers should integrate cultural competence and skills required in the delivery of quality care. For instance, they should have a better understanding of their patients, take into account any cultural differences and preferences, and apply the necessary skills to deliver safe and efficient healthcare services.
According to Lehman, Fenza and Hollinger-Smith (2012), there are five constructs of cultural competence. The first construct refers to cultural awareness or self-reflections, which enables an individual to identify and understand personal biases. The second construct is known as cultural knowledge. It refers to the process of obtaining information in reference to diverse cultures before an individual can identify the culture they understand and can relate to without conflicts or stereotypes. The third construct refers to cultural skills, which is the process of assessing cultural data of people from different backgrounds. For example, nurses should assess patients’ cultural data to identify measures that they should either embrace or avoid as they help an individual recover and attain quality health.
Cultural encounters refer to personal experiences with people from diverse backgrounds. Thus, healthcare providers should rely on cultural encounters to avoid cultural conflicts as they strive to deliver safe, timely, and quality care to patients from diverse backgrounds. The final construct refers to cultural desire. The process encourages people to attain the will and desire to be culturally competent (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Cultural competence in reference to healthcare, therefore, involves processes providers especially doctors and nurses ought to strive to work within cultural contexts of each patient continuously and consistently.
The Importance of Culturally Competent Healthcare Providers
The United States government has been seeking to develop a culturally competent community of healthcare providers to reduce health disparities. The expanding and growing elderly population across the United States are identified as people representing a cultural entity with diverse ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, racial values and norms. The government has also noted that the population will increase by 2050 with the largest growth rate being observed among American Indians, African Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders. The United States Census Bureau conducted a research in 2006 revealing that the nation’s population mainly comprises of people aged above sixty-five years. Thus, the aged are likely to represent at least 39% of the nation’s population by 2050 having grown from 19%. Healthcare settings require sensitivity, competent behaviors, and awareness as concepts of health, ailments, pain, suffering, and delivery of care bear varying meanings to people from diverse backgrounds (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Healthcare providers, therefore, should gain knowledge on cultural customs. Consequently, they can provide better care. Moreover, staffs, residents, and families can help the patients to recover while avoiding cultural misunderstandings.
Culturally competent healthcare providers can enhance health outcomes and the wellbeing of patients. For example, they can improve and increase healthcare-seeking behaviors by successfully educating patients to embrace appropriate testing and screening. Also, cultural competence can ensure that healthcare providers record fewer diagnostic errors (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). For example, the providers can identify measures to implement ensuring patients do not experience drug complications. The providers can also rely on cultural competence to offer patients great and expanded choices seeking to identify and access high quality clinicians. Thus, cultural competency influences healthcare outcomes directly.
As a result, healthcare providers should demonstrate that they have a great understanding on how cultural competency impacts accessibility and delivery of quality, safe, timely, and equitable healthcare services. Cultural competency can also assist staff, residents, and patients to recognize common barriers to cultural understanding (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Consequently, they can identify characteristics enhancing healthcare settings while interpreting and responding to diverse and effective measures of delivering quality care. Lastly, cultural competence can demonstrate commitment to appropriate services requiring healthcare staff to apply effective cultural and linguistic skills in leading and mentoring other providers and professionals.
The National Center for Cultural Competence defines values facilitating delivery of quality healthcare. Thus, NCCC states that healthcare providers including nurses ought to define a set of values and principles demonstrating positive and acceptable attitudes in delivery of safe and quality care. Healthcare providers should also demonstrate that their behaviors, structures, and policies enable them to work effectively across diverse cultures. It also states that healthcare providers ought to have the capacity to value and appreciate diversity. Besides, they should conduct self-assessments and reflections while managing the dynamics of cultural diversity to acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Consequently, they can embrace diverse cultural contexts among the communities they serve and strive to deliver quality care safely and timely. Lastly, healthcare facilities should formulate policies systematically improving administration practices and service delivery to fulfill needs among the patients, stakeholders, and communities.
In 2010, the State of Queensland published five cross-cultural capabilities clinical staff ought to attain namely, self-reflection, cultural understanding, context, communication, and collaboration. Based on the five capabilities, healthcare providers ought to rely on the following regulations to deliver quality care. Foremost, the providers should consider their individual cultures and understand how they feel when associating with people from diverse cultural backgrounds (QH, 2010). For example, they should gain a better understanding of existing cultural differences by considering social factors affecting patients’ behaviors. Consequently, they can sensitively respond to the patients’ needs while applying varying cultural norms to gain trust, build relationships, communicate effectively, and deliver quality care.
Cultural self-assessments should also be undertaken to identify personal position on cultural beliefs against that of healthcare system. The self-assessments can assist staffs and patients to recognize power relations produced in the healthcare system. The power differentials on cultural diversity can also be applied to consider interplay of factors such as age, gender, religion, and socioeconomics on how they affect delivery of quality care (QH, 2010). Thus, the self-reflections can ensure healthcare providers are sensitive to cross-cultural values and able to involve cultural and linguistic diversities in delivering quality care.
Personal and organizational biases should also be identified to determine and accommodate staffs and patients diverse needs (QH, 2010). For example, a nurse ought to understand that a patient can fail to identify with his or her own culture. The nurse, however, should appreciate that the patient may have more than one identity. Consequently, he/she can avoid cultural determinism and identify with the patients’ needs. The process, however, requires the nurse understanding different consumer behaviors influenced by cultural norms to deliver culturally appropriate and quality care. Subsequently, providers can avoid making assumptions and judgments about healthcare staff, residents, and patients as they work across disciplines required in delivery of quality care. For example, nurses ought to have the skills to facilitate development of referral pathways. In addition, they should be skilled at establishing collaborative networks to facilitate exchange of information across healthcare disciplinary boundaries. Consequently, patients’ needs can be addressed effectively and efficiently.
According to Lehman, Fenza, and Hollinger-Smith (2012), cultural awareness decreases ethnocentrism. People aware of diverse cultural values, biases, myths, and stereotypes relate well with their counterparts from different social, cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds. For example, nurses should acknowledge that ageism affects patients and the society. As a result, they should understand the need to have a positive attitude, apply the appropriate behavior, and have the belief that aged patients and their families also desire receiving quality, timely, and safe care. Subsequently, they can learn how to communicate with aged patients without being rude, prejudiced, or discriminative.
Cultural competency encourages healthcare providers to identify help-seeking behavioral patterns. Health education and communication, therefore, relies on cultural competence for staffs and patients to work together in addressing an ailment by applying acceptable attitudes, behaviors, and practices in delivery of care. Thus, healthcare providers should ensure residents and patients understand their views towards medical treatment practices. They should also encourage other providers or professionals and family members to participate in delivery of quality care through collaborative efforts (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). For example, nurses should allow family members and patients’ social networks to assist in ensuring an individual attain health. Community-based key informants with knowledge on cultural diversity and competency are also ideal in delivery of quality long-term care. They are often familiar with operating and regulatory environments defining long-term care. Thus, they should be allowed to design and facilitate culturally appropriate programs, practices, and services guarantying that patients will receive quality and safe care effectively and efficiently.
Cultural competence also ensures healthcare organizations employ bilingual staffs. Staffs using culturally-specific phrases and patterns of expression to gain resident compliance are often aware of cultural variants (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). For example, they can express psychological distress without insulting the patient. Thus, cultural competence can ensure healthcare staffs, board members, and volunteers to assess a patient and deliver quality care while applying clear communication skills and appropriate cultural perceptions.
Healthcare workplaces rely on practices showing compassion. Patients and their families often face difficulties associated with ailments. As a result, cultural competence in the workplace can ensure staffs and patients social and religious beliefs are respected accordingly. Besides, healthcare facilities should attain cultural competency to avoid installing symbols and adornments that can be culturally offensive. Hospitals often admit patients from a cultural background prohibiting them from eating certain meal choices (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Attaining cultural competency, therefore, can ensure such healthcare facilities cater for the patients’ needs appropriately to avoid offending their cultural customs. As a result, healthcare organizations should offer cultural sensitivity training to staffs and residents. The training programs ought to address cultural issues associated with family support. For example, the programs should address issues relating to language and literacy of cultural issues. Consequently, healthcare staffs can understand how to respect patients’ cultural traditions, values, and principles. The training can also encourage healthcare providers to be open-minded and exhibit cultural competence by learning phrases or languages from diverse ethnic communities.
The most effective resources and people supporting community outreach programs promoting healthcare are often culturally competent. The groups are mainly government, church, and neighborhood-based striving to enhance accessibility and delivery of quality care. They also anticipate partnerships from national and international programs striving to attain a similar goal. In addition, they rely on support from community members to provide relevant healthcare services to the people in need (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). As a result, they ought to engage cultural trainers and spiritual leaders with a cultural background of the communities they visit. This demonstrates respect and desire to deliver quality care to people in need without causing culture-based conflicts. For example, a community outreach program should seek information from cultural associations in a particular community to serve diverse ethnic groups with various healthcare needs. Consequently, they can encourage the members of the community to visit healthcare facilities to seek for medical assistance, as they will demonstrate that healthcare providers are friendly and approachable people with skills to deliver safe, timely, and equitable care.
Principles of cultural competency integrate appropriate linguistic services. They should be applied to improve delivery of safe and quality care provided to the public. Providing healthcare accreditation and related services involves supportive performance (Lehman, Fenza, & Hollinger-Smith, 2012). Healthcare organizations, therefore, should review policies, principles, and practices applied in delivery of care. For example, policies should be reviewed to ensure healthcare services are delivered appropriately culturally and linguistically. Consequently, standards, practices, and principles that are competent can be used to make culturally acceptable healthcare services accessible.
Delivery of quality, safe, timely, and equitable healthcare services involves working with people from diverse cultures. Thus, cultural capability is vital. It should be practiced across diverse social, religious, and economic backgrounds. As a result, healthcare providers should embrace self-awareness to identify their strengths and weaknesses. For example, they should gain insight into diverse cultural backgrounds to understand their ethnic and spiritual heritages. Consequently, they can determine the appropriate attitude as they impacts patients’ health conditions. Also, the providers can avoid making culture-based assumptions about a patient by acknowledging that their personal cultural beliefs, norms, and principles should allow them to make necessary adjustments to deliver quality care. Cultural competency, therefore, encourages healthcare providers to work competently and sensitively with staffs, residents, and patients from diverse backgrounds. They are able to understand their reactions and expectations, judge the extent personal biases can influence relationships with colleagues and patients, and identify appropriate, simple, and competent ways of delivering quality care.
Lehman, D., Fenza, P., & Hollinger-Smith, L. (2012). Diversity and Cultural Competency in Health Care Settings. Mather LifeWays Orange Paper on Aging.
Queensland Health (QH). (2010). Five Cross Cultural Capabilities for Clinical Staff. Division of the Chief Health Officer, Queensland Health.