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Embracing Diversity in the Health Industry

What is a culturally safe workplace or practice?

Cultural Safety is about creating an environment where an individual’s history is respected and where an identity isn’t denied”

In the RACGP Standards 5th edition, Criterion C2.1, the rights of the patient and responsibility of health care providers is well explained:

Patients have the right to respectful care that considers their religion and cultural beliefs, displays an acceptance of diversity and promotes their dignity, privacy and safety. 

All health care staff need to have an understanding of the demographics and cultural backgrounds of your patient population so
that you can provide the most appropriate care.

Living and working in Australia, it is easy to simply assume that everyone knows a great deal about cultural diversity and is already able to work effectively with colleagues and patients from many diverse backgrounds and cultures.

However, working in a diverse setting can be challenging sometimes, and can take some practice and effort to master. Sometimes it is useful to step back for a moment and consider exactly what we mean by terms such as ‘cultural diversity’, ‘cultural competence’ and a ‘culturally safe workplace’.    A mindful approach to understanding cultures and diversity is necessary to provide the understanding required to communicate effectively with others.

What is a culturally safe workplace or practice?

Cultural safety demands actions that recognise, respect and nurture the unique cultural identity of a person and safely meets their needs, expectations and rights.

Cultural Safety is about creating an environment where an individual’s history is respected and where an identity isn’t denied.

Patient engagement and relationship building should begin with an understanding of the needs and experiences of individuals, their culture and the knowledge that each person is unique.

It means working from the cultural perspective of the other person, not from your own perspective.

Cultural safety demands actions that recognise, respect and nurture the unique cultural identity of a person and safely meets their needs, expectations and rights.

It means working from the cultural perspective of the other person, not from your own perspective.

Characteristics that indicate a culturally safe workplace include:

  • clear, value-free, open and respectful communication
  • trust between workers with all contributions valued
  • treats everybody with dignity
  • allow people to promote, develop and maintain their distinctive customs, traditions, procedures and practices
  • allow no assault on a person’s identity
  • work with people where they are, not where someone thinks they should be
  • stereotypical barriers recognised and avoided
  • everyone is engaged in a two-way dialogue where knowledge is shared.

A culturally safe business for Aboriginal people will be able to state:

  • our organisation is culturally safe for workers and community
  • we are well connected to our local Aboriginal community
  • we respond to the identified needs of Aboriginal people
  • we are accessible to Aboriginal people and communities
  • we work in a culturally safe and appropriate manner.

What is a cultural competence?

Cultural competence is an area of skill development where there is a strong focus on learning about the skills and knowledge required to work effectively with diversity both with co-workers and patients.  Cultural competence training should be seen as an essential rather than a ‘nice to know’ aspect of being a health care worker or administrator in Australia.   In addition to diversity training and cultural awareness, a thorough understanding of the needs and culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders is essential to provide excellent health care.

Cultural competence underpins effective communication and productive workplaces or practices.   At its core, is understanding oneself and others.  When we understand others, we can communicate effectively and address any barriers to communication.  Culturally, communication can occur in different ways and interpretation and non-verbal gestures may be different.  Knowledge can promote understanding and prevent misunderstandings.

Cultural safety means an environment that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people; where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need.

It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience, of learning together with dignity and truly listening.  Empathy, after all, is at the heart of effective patient care.

 

Wesley Institute offer an Online Training program:

“Understanding and Embracing Diversity in Health Practice” aligned to Accredited Unit of Competency Cert III level.  

Corporate or individual student enquiries welcome at info@wesleytraining.edu.au