11 June 2012

Caring for Culture: Relevent care for all

Growing up I thought I would never plant roots in Canada: I had the travel bug from a young age and craved adventure.  It wasn't until I left the country for a few years that I began to appreciate Canada for everything that it was instead of what it wasn't (e.g. warm 52 weeks of the year! :) )

Image taken from criticalmeasures.net (no endorsement of site)
I now happily live in Toronto in an 'ethnic' area and although the definition of such an area can be as broad as the cultural makeup in my neighborhood it's one of the things I love most about this city. I love the amalgamation of differences and relish learning about these as well as the similarities across cultures.  I like to think I'm a fairly aware and culturally sensitive person but I know that my knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg and likely have very little knowledge of the plethora of cultural nuances.  Working in healthcare inside AND outside of Toronto it is increasingly important to be mindful that there is no 'Excellent Healthcare' prescription for all and that being sensitive to the cultural differences in all aspects of care is increasingly a must.

If your health care facility has a Librarian on staff they help provide you with resources and advice on this topic, or for a specific aspect of care.  It's just as important to ensure the information you are accessing on this is high quality and trusted: for example suggesting a mental health intervention to some cultures may be frowned upon or misunderstood so it is important to ensure a good working knowledge these differences to ensure optimal care and respect. 

A great free resource available online is called Ethnomed where you can browse topics by culture, specific clinical topics or even patient education materials.  If you're looking to provide a patient or family member with some information you can also check the National Network of Libraries of Medicine for quality Consumer Health info in many languages (based in the US).  You can also try the NSW, Australian government site that breaks items down by language!

These resources are by no means all there is to culturally competent care but it's a good starting place to ensuring your patients and families are respected as well as informed about the care you're providing.

No comments:

Post a Comment