Aged-care can never be a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Particularly within such a multicultural nation as Australia, there is a strong need to adopt an incredibly culturally sensitive and aware aged-care system in order to accommodate the myriad of physical/social/psychological requirements of its patients—particularly CALD patients. To ultimately interact “effectively with people in providing quality care, despite different social backgrounds, cultures, religions, and lifestyle preferences” (Chenoweth 2006), the Victoria State government shows that a much more comprehensive and in-depth approach to cultural sensitivity is needed in the aged-care sector to ensure its overall success and respect of our ageing communities.
A Screenshot of the Victorian State Government Website. Available here.
The Victoria State government’s focus towards culturally sensitive aged-care is—perhaps not so much unprecedented, however—important enough within an ageing, multicultural society to note, with one of their three key goals as “improving access and quality of service responses for our diverse older population.” (Victoria State Government 2015). This strong leadership in the field of aged-care is necessary not only for the simple reason of being able to fully communicate and address the needs of a diverse and ageing population, but to also to fulfil our moral obligation to provide an additional level of dignity and peace to the elderly in our communities, recognising the “essential humanity in all persons whatever their cultural background” (Zoucha & Husted 2000).
The ANCI (Australian Nursing Council Inc.) competency standards state “the principles to achieve culturally competent nursing care…require nurses to respect the values, customs, spiritual beliefs and practices of all individuals and groups” (Chenoweth 2006). With the focus of how best to maintain the independence of a patient being through assistive measures, and non-intrusive methods (Miletic et al 2006), the suggestion is towards a stronger effort on the part of the health-care provider, to eliminate potential stress to/disempowerment of the patient. As suggested in Aged Care And Cultural Diversity, this ‘disempowerment’ occurs when “independence is not permitted…our cultural patterns and rules of behaviour are unwritten, so being mindful and accepting of our differences is essential” (Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009).
Working around nuances of not only verbal communication (language barriers), but also non-verbal modes of communication (“learn about the cultural nonverbal communication rules… [in] many cultures eye contact and touching is inappropriate…some [hand] movements have different meaning for certain cultures and may cause misunderstandings or offence” (Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009)) within the diverse Australian ageing population are also highlighted by the Victoria Government as much more complex to address than simply providing a bilingual physician or interpreter (Victoria State Government 2015). The Victoria State Government’s Health Department’s websites’ ‘Tip Sheets’ even suggest culturally sensitive ways to approach discussions surrounding specific health topics with Cultural stigmas surrounding them and calls for health-care providers to “be sensitive when discussing issues that may have cultural significance to your client” (Miletic et al 2006).
This in-depth exploration and investment to provide patients (particularly those of CALD backgrounds) with the most understandable and all-encompassing care possible is a fundamental focus of the Victoria State Government’s Health Sector. Highlighting the complexity of the needs of a culturally diverse ageing community and how best to address them, the Victoria State government gives an example of how the investigation of cultural nuance and cultural sensitivity can make headway for a better and improved way of life for ageing populations within multicultural and cross-cultural societies.
All of the Victoria State Government’s information is readily available on <https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care> making the learning tools of this approach towards a more culturally sensitive aged-care system seamless and accessible.
1 CALD: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
2 The Assessment of Older People with dementia and depression of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds: A review of current practice and the development of guidelines for Victorian Aged Care Assessment Services (funded by the Victorian Department of Health; undertaken by the National Ageing Research Institute, 2011)
Aged Care And Cultural Diversity 2009. Stephanie Charewicz, Victoria (Australia): Video Education Australasia.
Chenoweth, Y., Jeon, M., Goff, C. 2006. ‘Cultural competency and nursing care: an Australian perspective’. International Nursing Review, vol 53, Issue 1, pp. 34–40
Miletic, T., Piu, M., Minas, H., Stankovska, M., Stolk, Y., & Klimidis, S. 2006. ‘Guidelines for working with interpreters in mental health settings’. Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit, Victoria.
Victoria State Government 2015, health.vic, ‘Ageing and Aged care’, viewed 28 October, <https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care>
Zoucha, R. & Husted, G. 2000. ‘The ethical dimensions of delivering culturally congruent nursing and health care’. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol 21, pp. 325–340.