Caregivers Need to be Culturally Sensative to Their Patient’s NeedsAs the world has become smaller, interaction with other creeds, cultures and races has become more prevelant in all aspects of life. Caregiving is no exception as doctors, nurses, pastoral counselors and other caregivers find themselves in direct contact with different cultures who demand and deserve certain care.
Within the area of grief, it is essential, according to John Bowlby, that we understand cross-cultural ideals, especially in grief to better provide the vital care patients need. Rituals, mourning, and family interaction varies from culture to culture and health care providers need to respect these particular cultures in their treatment. By becoming educated with the basics of religious and cultural ideals a care provider can be better equipped to treat his/her patient. Yet, before generalizations enter into one’s mind, the caregiver must also realize that there are deviations from the norm and not to expect certain reactions from a particular group merely because of their background.
Unfortunately, they did not teach this in medicial school and sadly, it may not have even been considered important but only an after thought. However, as trained caregivers who aspire to a certain level of professionalism, it is important to be educated in regards to the world and potential patients.
The “House” SyndromeThe lack of bedside manner by many caregivers has given rise to pastoral caregivers to become a crossroad between patient and provider, but the “cultural malpractice” by primary providers still remains a concern. Doctors and many health care providers seem to care only about the healing of the body or the cure of the disease instead of the treating the entire person. This “House” syndrome, from the celebrated television drama, is only too many times the norm. The doctor is more concerned with the puzzle and relates very little to the humanity or cultural diversity of the individual they are treating.
Primary caregivers need to understand the spirituality and the culture of each patient. This is why it is so important for primary providers to do spiritual assessments of patients. This can be done by a simple conversation with the patient or with the family. In this assessment, you can become familiar with how the person views life and what religious affiliations he/she has. Also in doing this, a doctor can treat the whole of the person. A patient who is beyond saving, sometimes wants someone to pray with them. Although doctors need to keep a certain distance to maintain objectivity, there are certain times when praying with a patient may be acceptable, especially if requested or both share the same faith. Spiritiual assessments not only help the doctor become more sensative to the cultural element of the patient but also enables the doctor to be more than a guy in a “white coat” but also a fellow human being who cares.
If you are interested in Pastoral Care Giving, please review the program.
(Information for this article was found in “Helping Grieving People-When Tears Are Not Enough” by J. Shep Jeffreys)
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C