Cultural Diversity in Aged Care Practice

Cultural Diversity in Aged Care Practice

As part of the Aged Care Course, Certificate III in Aged Care, students are required to undertake HLTHIR403C – Work with Culturally Diverse Clients and Co-Workers. This is unit is designed to deal with the cultural differences in aged care and the linguistically diverse backgrounds that come along.

This is required for effective communication and cooperation with people who have a different cultural background.

Cultural diversity and cultural difference can be present in ethnicity, race, language, cultural norms, religion, beliefs, personal experience, gender, age, disability, sexuality, or special needs.

It can be difficult for some workers to get used to working with clients who have culturally different backgrounds if they haven’t had much experience dealing with these types of issues before. For this reason, ensuring all staff are familiar with how cultural diversity should be valued and accommodated in aged care is essential.

Aged Care Quality Standards require providers to treat all aged care recipients with dignity and respect and value their identity, culture, and diversity. Aged care service providers must meet their client’s needs on an individual basis and acknowledge their diverse backgrounds.

Below is an introduction to the cultural differences present in aged care that can help aspiring aged care workers provide culturally appropriate care despite culturally diverse backgrounds.

This is Your Guide to Cultural Diversity in Aged Care Practice

dos and donts written on mini chalkboard to enrich cultural awareness

Different clients that belong to a specific cultural group may have different practices and ways that providers must be aware of. Cultural awareness is key to understand diverse cultures and properly attend to the client’s needs.

Arabic Speaking Care Clients:

• Aged care providers for Arabic speaking clients must be aware of the strong traditions against alcohol and foods

• Halal food should be provided

• Clients may wish to be treated by an aged carer of their own gender

• Muslims may need assistance in furniture rearrangement to perform the five daily prayers and ablutions. Aged care facilities must be able to respect this culture as it is very sacred to the Muslims

Cambodian Care Clients:

• Married Cambodian women retain their maiden name

• Clients prefer to be called Cambodians or Khmer, as opposed to Kampucheans

• Pronunciation of names is an important consideration for care facilities

• Use Sir or Madam to address clients that are strangers; apart from that Cambodians are addressed according to relationship

• Culturally, they regard the head as the keeper of the spirit and because of this, it is disrespectful to touch the head

• Aged care services should be keen on this: Generally, it is considered rude to make eye contact with an older Cambodian person

Chinese Aged Care Clients:

chinese elderly woman with family members in aged care facility

• As Chinese people are culturally and linguistically diverse, make the effort to learn the proper pronunciation of names. This simple effort is the first step in breaking language barriers

• When addressing older Chinese people, use the proper salutation (i.e. Mr, Mrs, Miss)

• Chinese may view outgoingness and eye contact as hostile

Croatian Elderly Clients:

• Aged care employees should always ask the client how they prefer to be addressed

• ‘Vi’ is the polite way to address someone older than oneself

Filipino Aged Care Clients:

filipino elderly bonding with his son on their local community

• Refer to women as ‘Filipina’; ‘Filipino’ is suitable for the general population and males specifically

• When talking, some Filipinos avoid direct eye contact

German Care Clients:

• When first meeting a German client shaking hands is the preferred method of introduction

• Physical space should be respected and social communications should remain formal

Indian Aged Care Clients:

• Hindus are prohibited from eating beef

• Respect for the elderly is paramount, they are viewed as important authority figures

• Respect for the elderly is reflected in the family tradition of ‘earning merit in the afterlife’ by caring for older generations

Italian Aged Care Clients:

senior italian couple drinking wine together - a prime example of diverse needs with culturally diverse senior people

• Aged care facilities should ask Italian clients how they wish to be addressed

• Physical contact is less rigid than other cultures and seen as normal

• Italians are highly expressive of happiness and sadness, both vocally and physically

Polish Elderly Care Clients:

• The most polite form of address is Pan (for males) and Pani (for females), this is used as the salutation before a first name

• General good manners are required by aged caregivers

Spanish Community Care Clients:

• Spanish (like Italians) are often very affectionate in their greetings

• When referring to the Spanish client as ‘you’ it is important to observe language differences as they are also linguistically diverse (‘Tu’ is used for friendship whereas carers should refer to clients as ‘Usted’ which is the formal version)

• Address clients by their surname with the salutation Mr, Mrs or Miss

Vietnamese Aged Care Clients:

elderly vietnamese group doing tai chi - showing how each group have different cultures

• Assertive and loud behaviour is viewed as disrespectful with older clients

• Many Vietnamese withdraw from conflicts and do not draw attention to problems

• Care providers should address their clients without touching them and it may be suitable to bow upon meeting

• Aged care services must understand that a smile can signify happiness, guilt, anger, sadness, fear, embarrassment, or a range of other emotions

Do You Work Within Aged Care?

helping hands in aged care - a symbol of cultural safety in aged care despite diverse groups

Are you in a culturally diverse environment? Have you had an experience with a client or co-worker that has a different cultural background? Share your stories and comments with us in the box below!

For more information on the Certificate III in Aged Care unit HLTHIR403C, visit the unit page.

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