The notion of cultural competence is deeply embedded into contemporary health care system. The constantly increasing ethnic and social diversity of the U. S. population requires addressing diversity issues and adopting new cultural strategies within various healthcare agencies. As a result of the growing cultural concerns, cultural competence has become one of the CLAS standards in the U. S. However, not all agencies are able to follow the principles of cultural competence in their daily performance. After having interviewed the head of the healthcare home agency, several serious issues became visible.
First, the agency’s administrator does not have clear understanding of what cultural competence is. Certainly, the agency follows the basic principles of cultural competence: it is aware of cultural differences across different social groups; the agency’s administration knows that cultural differences impact the quality of healthcare delivery in a certain way, but the head of the agency does not possess sufficient knowledge of how culture impacts healthcare services. Furthermore, the agency lacks any clear set of cultural competence goals that would help the administration develop cultural self-awareness.
CLAS standards imply that “health care organizations should develop, implement, and promote a written strategic plan that outlines clear goals, policies, operational plans, and management accountability mechanisms to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services” (The Office of Minority Health, 2007). The agency’s administrator has failed to provide me with any kind of culturally appropriate plan. Taking into account that the agency is located in an extremely culturally and ethnically diverse location, such situation is inappropriate.
Although the agency staff realizes the importance of proper and objective cultural attitudes towards clients, the absence of such culturally appropriate plan cannot increase the quality of agency’s performance. Ultimately, cultural competence implies that agencies are able to immediately respond to emerging cultural controversies and disputes; without a clear plan such response would be impossible. To help the agency achieve its cultural competence goals, the agency’s administration should follow the set of recommendations. First, the agency should conduct thorough research and analysis of the local population’s demographic structure.
The results of the analysis will help the agency determine the most problematic ethnic groups, their needs, and the instruments for addressing those needs. Second, the agency is encouraged to develop a clear plan of culturally competent health care services. Third, the agency is recommended to develop a set of “programs for minority health care leadership development and strengthening existing programs” (Betancourt, Green & Carrillo, 2002). As a result, the agency will acquire a set of culturally competent professionals, who will be able to further promote cultural awareness among workforce.
There are several essential elements that will contribute into culturally competent health care performance of the agency. The agency should hire several multilingual and multicultural managers; this step will further emphasize the importance of diversity among agency’s staff and the importance of maintaining appropriate cultural relations with patients. The agency can successfully hire managers and employees from the local community, who are well aware of the cultural issues within local healthcare, and who will re-direct their practical knowledge for the improvement of healthcare service delivery within the organization.
Finally, the agency can establish a board of culturally diverse administrators and community representatives. The board will guide the delivery of health care which each patient will be able to call “culturally competent” (Rundle, 2002). Conclusion A set of culturally competent goals and objectives is the basis for the successful “cultural” performance of any healthcare agency. To be culturally competent means to promote cultural self-awareness among the staff, and to be able to quickly respond to emerging cultural issues within home health care delivery.
References Betancourt, J. R. , Green, A. R. & Carrillo, E. (2002). Cultural competence in health care. The Commonwealth Fund. Rundle, A. (2002). Cultural competence in health care: A practical guide. Jossey-Bass. The Office of Minority Health. (2007). National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved June 17, 2008 from http://www. omhrc. gov/templates/browse. aspx? lvl=2&lvlID=15