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Increasing the cultural competence of health care providers serving Minnesota's diverse populations
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Culturally Competent Care
Caring for diverse populations starts with culturally competent care. The theme of culturally competent care under the Office of Minority Health national standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) is comprised of three standards:
In order to provide culturally competent care, a logical first step is to learn more about the cultural practices of the diverse populations served by your health care organization.
Did you know?
Diversity in Minnesota
Minnesota's population is considerably less diverse than the overall U.S. population. The state's non-white population was 14 percent in 2007 compared to 34 percent of the national population. Minnesota continues to become more diverse, as non-white populations grow faster than the white population. Thirty-six percent of the minority population in Minnesota is foreign born.
The Culture Care Connection - Diversity in Minnesota Information Sheets help organizations and health care providers learn more about the background, religious and cultural beliefs, communication preferences, and common health issues of the predominant minority populations in Minnesota.
The Culture Care Connection - DVD Training Series offers insights into the beliefs and norms of three of Minnesota’s predominant cultures. DVDs, available for purchase, include a facilitator discussion guide. CEU credit available.
Culturally Competent Care
Communication is essential to providing culturally competent care. Communication with patients from diverse populations can be inhibited by language barriers, literacy level, and cultural beliefs and practices. Data reported to the Joint Commission demonstrate that communication is one of the most common underlying root causes of sentinel events, a finding which is echoed in Minnesota’s 2009 Adverse Health Events Public Report.
Of equal importance is the awareness and appreciation of culture and its impact on health care. Cultural understanding can play a unique role in diverse population’s decisions to seek health care services (University of Minnesota, 2000). Many health care organizations have observed that the lack of awareness among staff regarding the importance of cultural and linguistic issues and how they affect patient care presents a challenge in treating patients from diverse populations (Joint Commission, 2008).
Key strategies to improving communication and providing culturally competent care to patients from diverse populations include:
Using a patient-centered care approach
Learning more about health literacy
Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.
Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce
Developing a diverse workforce that reflects the community and patient population is one strategy recommended by the Joint Commission to foster the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate care. While no studies definitively address the association between the presence of a diverse workforce and health outcomes, consider this (HRSA, 2006):
Other tools, including a list of interview questions on the topic of assessing job candidate experience related cultural competence, are available through this Web site. More tools >
Training in Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service Delivery
The provision of culturally competent care starts with an awareness of one’s own culture as well as an understanding of the needs associated with providing care to people of different cultures. With this knowledge in hand, organizations may begin to develop cross-functional strategies to change organizational practices, physical environments, and communication practices at all levels and across all disciplines. It is for this reason that the Office of Minority Health suggests the provision of training and education as a standard toward achieving culturally competent care.
Of the various training resources available, few were developed with the needs of Minnesota's providers and the predominant cultures of Minnesota in mind. Minnesota specific training resources >
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