Cultural Diversity Considered in Homecare for Elderly

Cultural differences can present challenges in homecare, for the elderly, their families, the caregivers and companies providing the care. Ethnicity has been shown to have considerate importance in determining variations in the aging experience, definition of need and how the elderly make use of the services available to them. Where a person comes from can help us to provide personalized and respectful care. On the other hand, stereotyping people based on their country of origin or on where they currently live can be dangerous. What is needed is for cultural diversity to be considered, along with a knowledge of cultural customs, to help avoid misunderstanding and to provide proper care.

Anywhere there are people interacting, there are cultures interacting. This seems more obvious in urban environments, but shouldn’t be discounted in remote areas as well. This is where generalizations may be useful, but should not discount the individuality of a person. Knowledge of a culture can help us to make generalizations, which should be a diving board for understanding the person and their background more uniquely. For example, if one is caring for a person of the opposite sex and they are an Orthodox Jew, it is important to know that contact outside of hands-on care is prohibited. You would need to know this in order to adapt your care to their needs. Or consider eye contact, something valued in North American culture, which for the Chinese may be considered a rude behaviour to a person of status. Instead, averting the eyes is a sign of respect for the Chinese. Again, you would need to know this so you won’t misinterpret their averted eyes for disinterest or shame. Understanding that Canada is a beautiful mosaic of cultures is important for all professional care providers as well as for those who are receiving the care.

Considerations for Care Providers: Care providers have a unique responsibility to provide personalized care in a respectful and professional manner. Knowledge of broad patterns of behaviours and beliefs, in other words, generalizations, can give care providers a starting point from which to provide the most appropriate care. At Entrust Home Care Services we get to know each client and their family through an assessment, from which we match an appropriate caregiver to their care. We consider language, religion or an understanding of the religion of the client, hobbies and personal interests, cultural background as well as the skill set required to assist the unique needs of each and every client. We work with the client and their family to ensure a positive, healthy match between the older person and their caregiver. We personally introduce the caregiver to the client.

Considerations for Elderly and their Families: Those receiving home care as well as the family members involved, are often found to be interacting with professional care providers from another culture. This can be a challenge for an elderly person who may have experienced a lifetime of change and just wants things to “be normal.” Having a home care provider who cares about your elderly loved one is where you need to start. Then, focus on the positive attributes of the caregiver and how they are going to assist them to remain independent. Take the discussion away from any negatives and instead bring up how kind, punctual or polite the caregiver is. Consider traits the elderly person values and mention how the caregiver possesses them also.

anada is a mosaic of peoples, cultures, religions, points of view and ways of life. The fact that one country can be home to such a diverse population is a particular strength, however considerations in cultural diversity are needed when providing homecare, in home care provider