Changing Demographics and Personalized Care
The demographics of residents residing in nursing homes in the United States are now significantly different than in the past, especially in metropolitan and urban areas, which are home to an array of cultures. Facilities with a diverse population are now culturally influenced when determining compatible roommate’s selections on the unit, the food that it serves, religious and holiday celebrations, and even the activities that are provided to our residents.
For example, a Cuban resident will more likely participate in activities if dominoes were offered as enjoyment instead of card games, since dominoes is a favorite pastime of the Cuban culture. A Brazilian resident will enjoy watching a soccer match instead of the football we watch in the U.S.
When it comes to certain areas of care, differences among populations take on extra significance. Culture has a significant role with death and dying in long-term care facilities. From decisions regarding artificial means to sustain life to rituals that may be done once a resident has passed, these personal care decisions are profoundly important to a resident’s culture. Recognizing and respecting those customary routines are extremely important. Allowing an environment where these practices and beliefs can be realized without the intrusion of bias or prejudice is an aspect of care that families will appreciate and will bring a feeling of home to them.
Long-term care facilities need to be flexible when cultural beliefs and value-based issues arise in a resident’s stay. Not allowing this expression violates the resident’s rights.
Not only are our residents from different cultures, but the staff in these areas are from different cultural backgrounds as well. Here are some tips to consider when attempting to enrich nursing care with diverse cultural issues and strengthening the patient-centeredness of your care:
■Educating the staff on cultural issues in health care is essential to bring awareness to the staff.
■It is also important to identify conflicts in culture among staff and residents that may exist.
■Staff must be educated not to allow their own cultural beliefs to influence them when caring for residents, which may be difficult to separate.
■Identification of the potential conflicts that may exist is not so easy to do.
■Figures of leadership must listen to staff concerns and support them in order to deliver the resident’s needs in a caring and respectful manner.
Multicultural residents, families and staff that fill our facilities on a daily basis do bring an environment that is full of enrichment and interesting life moments. Identifying the differences and norms of such a variety of cultures is challenging, yet it welcomes an environment that embraces persons from all walks of life, bringing enjoyment when we understand the cultures that coexist.
By providing effective health care that is culturally competent to ensure the residents’ needs are met with dignity and respect, the result is an enhancement of quality of care delivered by our caring staff and better outcomes for our residents.