Cultural Competence: Bringing It Home

Hello. Wéi. Bonjour. Hola. Guten Tag. Moshi Moshi. Habari. Ciao. These are just some of the greetings one might hear in the modern nursing home. 

Up to 40 percent of the U.S. population is made up of immigrants or first-generation Americans, and fewer and fewer facilities are homogeneous. While it is unrealistic to expect everyone to know about all of the world’s ethnicities, languages, and cultural traditions, facilities should promote cultural competence among staff and mutual respect among residents from different backgrounds. 

Cultural competence generally is defined as a set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable staff to work and function effectively and congruously in cross-cultural situations. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cultural competency is “critical to reducing health disparities and improving access to high-quality health care…that is respectful of and responsive to the needs of diverse patients.” NIH further says that cultural competency benefits consumers, stakeholders, and communities and supports positive health outcomes. 

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