Friday, September 2, 2011

Training Hospice-Palliative Volunteers for Cultural Competence (Research, Video 1:42)

Hospice-palliative volunteers and other healthcare workers can operate with a higher level of confidence and efficiency when they display cultural competence during their interactions with diverse patients. This competency is greatly needed to foster increased participation of ethnic groups that continue to underutilize hospice-palliative services.

A study in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) examined the current state of culturally competent care. Using 14 hospice volunteers, researchers from the Department of Sociology at McMaster University did in-depth interviews with them to gain more understanding about their cultural competency status and challenges such as misunderstandings resulting in hurt feelings. Volunteers revealed the following in their responses to the questions:

1)   Volunteers with weak levels of cultural competence said they encountered cultural clashes with patients.

2)   Volunteers revealed that they needed more education in cultural competence as part of their hospice training.

3)   There was a lack of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity among the hospice volunteers.

While this research was done with a small group, it serves as an example to hospice-palliative organizations and other healthcare institutions that cultural competence issues must be addressed. Ongoing staff education is a necessary component for the successful delivery of healthcare. In addition to improving patient-staff relations, eliminating cultural insensitivity and miscommunication will positively impact patients’ quality of life.

This video explores the importance of cultural competence training for workers in a cross-cultural healthcare environment. Examples of various cultural groups and how to interact with them are explained:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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