The Joint Commission defines cultural competency as:
the ability of health care providers and health care organizations to under- stand and respond effectively to the cultural and language needs brought by the patient to the health care encounter. (2010, p. 91)
They further recognize that:
cultural competence requires organizations and their personnel to: (1) value diversity; (2) assess themselves; (3) manage the dynamics of difference; (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge; and (5) adapt to diver- sity and the cultural contexts of individuals and communities served. (The Joint Commission, 2010, p. 91)
These principles apply to each segment of the institutional experience from admission to discharge or end of life, and for each facet there are specific actions that must be undertaken. These actions include informing patients of their rights, assessing communication needs, and involving the patient and family in care plans. Each segment is accompanied by a checklist for activities; for example, there is a checklist to Improve Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care during admission (The Joint Commis- sion, p. 9).
■ CULTURALCARE The term CULTURALCARE expresses all that is inherent in the development of health care delivery to meet the mandates of the CLAS standards and other cul- tural competency mandates. CULTURALCARE is holistic care. There are countless conflicts in the health care delivery arenas that are predicated on cultural misun- derstandings. Although many of these misunderstandings are related to universal situations—such as verbal and nonverbal language misunderstandings, the con- ventions of courtesy, the sequencing of interactions, the phasing of interactions,
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and objectivity—many cultural misunderstandings are unique to the delivery of health care. The need to provide CULTURALCARE is essential, and providers must be able to assess and interpret a patient’s health beliefs and practices and cultural and linguistic needs. CULTURALCARE alters the perspective of health care delivery as it enables the provider to understand, from a cultural perspective, the mani- festations of the patient’s cultural heritage and life trajectory. The provider must serve as a bridge in the health care setting between the given institution, the pa- tient, and people who are from different cultural backgrounds.
In conclusion, cultural and linguistic competency must be understood to be the foundations of a new health care philosophy. It is comprised of countless facets—each of which is a topic for study. CULTURALCOMPETENCY is a philosophy that appreciates and values holistic perspectives rather than, or in addition to, du- alistic—modern and technological—viewpoints. CULTURALCOMPETENCY is more than a “willingness”—it is a philosophy that must be part of an institution’s and a professional’s mission and goal statement. Within the philosophy of cultural competency, HEALTH, ILLNESS, and HEALING are understood holistically.