Sunday, January 10, 2010

Palliative and Hospice Care for Latinos

By the year 2050, Latinos, who currently make up 15 % of America’s population, will account for 30 % of the population.  Latinos are a diverse population with unique healthcare end-of-life needs that must be addressed if they are to receive quality care everyone deserves. Many have difficulty as immigrants adjusting in America to the dominant English language and Anglo-centric culture.

Non-Latino and non-Spanish-speaking healthcare workers must make every effort to communicate with Latinos and eliminate cultural misunderstandings that can negatively impact their healthcare. In terms of end-of-life care, the following challenges of immigrants must be addressed:

1) Geographic distance as well as political and economic realities which separate patients from their families
2) Undocumented immigrants who are frequently uninsured and fearful of deportation
3) Language and literacy barriers
4) Concerns about discrimination, culture, religion and spiritual influences

Professional interpreters can be helpful in alleviating barriers in communication. Ongoing staff development in working with diverse populations is also important. Everyone is entitled to quality palliative and hospice care when it is needed. You can read more here about palliative care for Latino patients and their families.

Frances Shani Parker, Author

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