Why is cultural sensitivity in healthcare important?

Cultural sensitivity in healthcare means understanding and integrating people’s beliefs, values, and choices into their care.

Here, we’ll dig into the importance of cultural sensitivity in healthcare, its benefits, and how, as a long term care provider, you make culturally appropriate care a cornerstone of your service.

Why is culturally appropriate care important?

Cultural sensitivity in healthcare is about recognizing how your long term care residents’ identities may have been shaped by their cultural backgrounds.

Understanding this helps you better recognise and respect each person’s individual needs – so you’re ultimately able to care for them better.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. To get it right, you need to talk to people before, during and after their time at your healthcare facility.

You can help figure out what culturally appropriate care means for each person, but it’s crucial not to dictate it.

What are the benefits of cultural sensitivity in healthcare?

1. Better communication and trust

Taking residents’ cultural backgrounds into account makes communication easier.

How people express themselves varies depending on where they come from: what’s polite in one place might be considered rude in another, for example.

  • Keep in mind: How might your residents’ experiences change the way they interpret what you’re saying?
  • How can you convey ideas and messages in a clear and sensitive way?
  • Would it be helpful to pause and think before responding?

Taking time to understand cultural nuances, including language differences and non-verbal cues, can help your team communicate empathetically and helpfully with residents and patients. This builds trust over time.

2. Improve care outcomes

When healthcare providers understand and respect people’s cultural backgrounds, they can give care based on values, build stronger relationships and encourage better patient participation in healthcare decisions.

Overall, residents stay safer and feel mentally and physically healthier when they’re in culturally appropriate environments. Culturally appropriate food can help residents maintain better appetites, while programs and activities that connect them with their cultural backgrounds make them feel happier and more relaxed.

3. Greater healthcare equality

Health disparities are a big problem in healthcare systems everywhere, and they often happen because of cultural differences and biases in the system.

Cultural sensitivity in healthcare can make a real difference in tackling these disparities.

Here’s how:

  • Healthcare for all:  Services are made friendlier and easier to access for people from all backgrounds.
  • Better understanding: This practice helps us better understand each other, even if we come from different cultures or speak different languages.
  • Personalized care: We can create special treatment plans that fit the needs and beliefs of each person.
  • Building strong bonds: When we show respect and understanding, we build trust and help residents feel comfortable.
  • Fair for everyone: Making sure peoples’ rights to live well, be healthy and have dignity is respected.

How do you provide culturally appropriate care?

Culturally appropriate care makes life better for patients and residents, so it’s worth investing time and energy into it. You can hone your approach to cultural sensitivity in care by looking at resources like the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

Here are five practical ways to make culture a central part of your care facility.

  1. Understand individual needs. Take the time to learn about each resident’s background, beliefs, and preferences, so you can provide care that aligns with their unique identity.
  2. Respect traditions and practices. Be respectful of cultural practices and traditions that are important to your residents, and find ways to incorporate them into their daily routines and care plans.
  3. Create a diverse menu. Offer a variety of food choices that cater to residents’ tastes and dietary requirements, so they can enjoy familiar and comforting meals.
  4. Provide language support. Make sure staff members can communicate with residents in their preferred language, or provide access to interpreters, so residents feel understood and can express their needs.
  5. Honour cultural activities and celebrations. Organize activities, events, and celebrations that honor and embrace the diverse backgrounds of residents, creating a sense of community and inclusivity for all.

Culturally appropriate, continuous care with Florence

It’s important to have reliable core staff in your care facility who are able to carry out your aims to deliver culturally appropriate care.

With Florence, you can use our shift-filling app to maximise your permanent team’s hours. You can also cover shift gaps with our fully-vetted nurses, personal support workers and dietary aides – and invite them back again and again, helping you uphold continuity of care.

Celebrating Canadian diversity

Multiculturalism is a big part of Canadian society, so it’s crucial to weave cultural sensitivity in healthcare into every LTC setting.

Let’s continue to celebrate our cultural diversity and work together to make sure everyone receives the care they deserve – no matter their cultural background.


To find out how Florence can help you fill shifts with people you can trust, talk to us today

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