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In this lesson we’re going to talk about cultural awareness and what it means for you and your patients.
As nurses we need to understand what culture is and how it affects our patients. Culture is the idea of values, beliefs or feelings that people have, and they’re often influenced by customs, traditions, arts, music, food…there’s a lot that goes into culture.
Let’s talk about culture does include and what it doesn’t include.
First off, it includes thoughts, communication that people within the same culture have. It also includes actions, customs, traditions beliefs or religion. They’re influenced by the history of the family or group. What culture does not includes are things like race, ethnicity, and geographical roots, so where the patient’s family may have lived a long time ago. These things can influence the beliefs or culture or religion, but they don’t define them.
The reason you need to know the difference is so that you don’t make assumptions about a patient based strictly on their race or ethnicity. Their race or ethnicity can maybe give you some insight into their family history, but that doesn’t give you any sort of defining information about that patients family and culture. It really involves some further investigation. And we’re going to go into what it means to be culturally aware and what that means for us when we’re taking care of patients
The first thing we need to know about cultural awareness is it we need to be sensitive to cultural values. If a patient wants to pray at a particular time, or if they have special request because it is important for them because of their beliefs or traditions or values, you don’t necessarily have to understand it but you do need to be sensitive to those requests. The truth is we don’t always know everything about our patients, or what they’ve been through, or how important these values are to them, but it’s important to maintain their autonomy as patients and it’s important to make sure that we are delivering high-quality care but being aware of the patients values at the same time.
We also need to be able to cater to their needs. If a patient has a request for a specific dietary restriction, be sure not to pass judgment or to ask too many questions and be sure to use your therapeutic communication. The last thing you want to do is come off being judgmental because it could be a sign of disrespect. Remember we want to continue to build rapport and our relationships with our patience and the last thing we want to do is hinder any sort of that progress by coming off as judgmental.
We also don’t want to attempt to change their culture or beliefs. And I know sometimes it may be frustrating especially if we’re trying to deliver a particular aspect of care, but it’s important to understand that the patient still has a right. But I would definitely do is encourage you to spend time learning about the culture and becoming culturally competent. What that means is if you have a particular patient population that you are unfamiliar with that you are seeing a lot of in your particular facility, I encourage you to do some research, to ask questions among management and maybe Chaplin, that way they can give you some insight into how to best approach patients if you have questions. The reason you would want to do this is that you continue to be culturally sensitive, culturally aware, and you continue to build a rapport with those patients.
There are definitely going to be times when you’re really going to have to be especially sensitive to cultural needs of particular patient populations. Sometimes patients have special rituals are Traditions when it comes to end-of-life, post mortem care and even pregnancy. You need to do what you can to find out what those patients needs are, be sure not to pass judgment, and be sure not to make any assumptions. Continue to give the same standards of care that you would give to everyone else, but just make sure that if they ask for a particular item that you can provide to them, Do what you can to make them comfortable especially for these types of situations.
Sometimes surgery can also have some special considerations, like particular of preparations, or particular visitors. If that’s the case, do what you can as long as you’re hearing facility policy and you’re not violating HIPAA, then try to make your patients as comfortable as possible.
Another thing to consider would be prayer times in meals. If a patient has a particular dietary restriction, make sure that we’re being sensitive to them, and also consider prayer times. I had a patient one time whose wife had her prayer mat that she would lay and the room and pray a particular times of the day. I would just make sure that none of the doctors were coming in to make rounds, and to make sure that she wasn’t being disturbed because that was important to her as a family member.
By doing these things, we continue to be sensitive to the patient’s needs and their values, and we make sure that we’re continuing to foster that nurse-patient relationship. One thing I do want to mention, is if you are asking your patient to do something for their care that is totally against their culture, you’re going to have a hard time with compliance. So just make sure that you’re talkin to all of providers that you need to to make sure that you set your patient up for success. that may mean that you have to pull in chaplain or some other resources to figure out a way to make sure that your patient stays compliant with their treatments or intervention and also being sensitive to their needs..
Today we really focused on human development and health promotion as far as hard nursing Concepts and we also focus on building those interpersonal relationships, especially between the nurse and the patient by being culturally sensitive.
Okay so let’s recap
In order to understand how to be culturally sensitive, we have to understand what culture is. Culture is the customs, beliefs, values, or traditions for the patient that help make them who they are.
We need to focus on cultural sensitivity. Spend time learning about the other cultures, especially those patient populations that are prevalent in your hospitals or facilities.
Don’t assume things about cultures. Remove any biases or any preconceptions about a patient and ask questions if you are curious about how you can best care for your patience based on their cultural needs.
Again, there are some times that you were going to need to be particularly sensitive to tradition for values. These events are really important for those patients in the family so be aware that some life events have significant value to the patient.
Lastly be sure to cater your needs to your patients. Your patients still have the right to refuse care, but be sure to do what you can to make sure that your patient stick compliant as well as being sensitive to their values.
That’s it for this lesson. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing!!