To be able to be provide sufficient nursing care to all, nurses must understand and demonstrate culture respect and awareness. Nurses and all health care professionals must demonstrate cultural competency, cultural sensitivity. The health care system is a cultural diverse area that all health care professionals must utilise and thoroughly understand to be able to provide reliable care to all individuals no matter their race, age, sex and background. Nurses must understand that different cultures have different customs and beliefs and nurses must know how to provide correct nursing care to these different individuals.
Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, roles, relations, and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individuals and groups. Culture can be a system of knowledge shared by a small or large group of people. A culture can be a is a way of life of a group of people-their behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next, this is the way of their life.
Today when people move across continents with the help of technology their culture and heritage moves along with them. Almost each and every continent is populated with people from different nations who have diverse traditions and cultures. So knowledge of health traditions and culture plays a vital role in nursing. People from different cultures have a unique view on health and illness. Culture specific care is a essential skill to the all nurses, as Australia continues to consist of many immigrants who have become assimilated into one culture. ‘Cultural diversity is a challenge for community nurses and can present many difficulties in the provision of quality nursing care and in achieving the best possible health care outcomes.’ (Contemporary Nurse Journal 1992-2010)
Gathering accurate information on the cultural diversity of the client group is the key
to planning for quality nursing care for culturally diverse clients.
‘By investigating service use and health trends, it may be possible to identify issues
relevant to particular language or cultural groups. This may also indicate a need to
develop new strategies tailored to certain cultural groups or target interventions to
tackle specific health and welfare issues.'(Government Department of Human Services 2006)
The responsiveness of an health care professionals to the communities and/or cultural groups it helps can be greatly effected by developing and maintaining a culturally diverse and aware workforce. Employing nurses who speak other languages or have experience and understanding of other cultures can be an important for improving an health organisation’s awareness and sensitivity to different cultures. ‘Cultural awareness training for staff can raise consciousness of cultural issues more broadly and contribute significantly to improved service delivery.’ (Government Department of Human Services 2006)
To be culturally competent a nurse needs to understand their own cultural and world views and those of the patient, and nurses need to avoided stereotyping to the scientific cultural area. Cultural competence is obtaining cultural information and then applying that knowledge. Cultural awareness allows nurses to see the entire picture and improves the quality of care and health outcomes.
Adapting to different cultural beliefs and practices requires flexibility and a respect for others view points. Cultural competence means to really listen to the patient, to find out and learn about the patient’s beliefs of health and illness. ‘To provide culturally appropriate care we need to know and to understand culturally influenced health behaviours.’ (culturediversity.org. 1997-2008)
In Australia nurses don’t have to travel to far to encounter a lot of cultural differences, such as ethnic customs, traditions and beliefs. To be culturally competent the nurse needs to learn how to mix a little cultural understanding with the nursing care they offer. Perceptions of illness and disease and there causes varies by different cultures, these individual preferences affect the approaches to health care. Culture also influences how people seek health care and how they behave toward health care providers. How nurses care for patients and how patients respond to this care is greatly influenced by culture. Health care professionals must have the ability and knowledge to communicate and to understand all health behaviours influenced by culture.
Cultural competence requires nurses to have an awareness of the fact that there are many different belief systems. The beliefs that different cultures may have about health care and sometimes their aversion to it, may be difficult for some nurses to understand but all health care professionals must understand that nurses don’t need to understand these beliefs completely, but need to respect and show some understanding and a willingness to learn.
Drawbacks to cultural sensitivity can include stereotyping, discrimination, racism, and prejudice. There may be situations in which some nurses may show a lack of sensitivity without realising it or intending to offend someone. Nurses should never make assumptions about individuals and their beliefs. Nurses should ask questions about cultural practices in a professional and thoughtful manner if they don’t fully understand the culture. Show respect for the patients support group, whether it is family, friends, religious leaders etc. Understanding where men and women fit in the patients culture is necessary, in some cultures, the oldest male is the decision-maker for the rest of the family, even with regards to treatment decisions. All nurses must make an effort to gain the patients trust and develop a rapport.
‘Cultural competence is the ability to provide effective care for clients who come from different cultures. It requires sensitivity and effective communication, both verbally and non-verbally.’ (nursetogether.edu.au 2009)
In conclusion nurses as a whole need to be culturally diverse in the way the provide quality health care. They need to understand that all patients are different and they will all need different nursing care to fit their culture. Nurses need to respect, understand and learn from different people about their different cultures. Nurses must not be racist, discriminatory or show any prejudice to any patient about their culture, just because it isn’t the same as the nurses doesn’t mean that it is wrong. The Australian Health care system is culturally diverse so all health care professionals need to uphold a high standard of care to all know matter their culture and if cultural awareness and understanding is administered nurses can provide a holistic approach to health care.
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