Healthcare News & Insights

Keys to developing cultural sensitivity in your facility

The rise of diversity within the hospital setting can be positive for patients and providers, but it comes with some challenges as well. Cultural differences mean patients may respond differently to traditional treatment methods or the usual routines, so sensitivity is required from all clinical staff. 

It’s important to remember that cultural differences don’t just encompass race or ethnicity. They also include socioeconomic status, religion, age, gender and a host of other qualities. This means there are a lot of potential landmines when it comes to communication and treatment.

Depending on patients’ identities, their ideas about privacy and disclosure, healing traditions and spirituality may be complicated or unfamiliar to members of your hospital’s staff, according to Hospitals & Health Networks (H&HN) Magazine.

Cultural biases

To provide the best care possible for patients with different beliefs, it’s essential for clinicians to first spend time learning about their own biases. Though bias may not intentionally affect the care they give, clinical staff should still be aware of their biases to avoid harming someone accidentally with their words or actions.

If your organization hasn’t already done so, implement diversity and inclusion training for all workers at your facility. Many employees may not realize that words they use or beliefs they hold are harmful to others, and training can give them the opportunity to reflect and work on changing their behavior.

When interacting with patients who speak languages other than a provider’s own, another strategy H&HN recommends is using interpreters to clear up confusion. With an interpreter, important information won’t get lost in translation between a provider and patient, and having someone who understands what patients are saying can go a long way toward making them feel more comfortable in your hospital.

Healthcare gap

One of the negative impacts of bias within the industry is that minority patients generally receive lower-quality care than their white counterparts. Every patient deserves the same level of care, comfort and treatment, and there are ways to improve this disparity, including:

  1. Hiring more diverse staff and leadership. By increasing diversity at all levels of your organization, you can ensure every patient has someone who understands their needs and preferences, as well as the different risks associated with different cultural practices.
  2. Engaging with a range of communities. Getting the word out about your hospital in traditionally underserved communities can bring people into your organization who might not have felt comfortable or safe undergoing treatment. When there’s a concerted effort to be inclusive, the value to communities and patients can’t be overstated.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.