In today's world, with an ever-expanding demographic of residents entering long term care homes, it is critical to develop strategies that promote diversity and inclusion.
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In today's world, with an ever-expanding demographic of residents entering long term care homes, it is critical to develop strategies that promote diversity and inclusion.

Cultural diversity has many dimensions; language, race, religious beliefs, ethnicity, etc. To support cultural diversity, care homes need what is known as cultural competence.

Cultural Competence is defined as a set of behaviors, attitudes, and practices that equip healthcare providers with the knowledge to deliver culturally appropriate care. It is so important to foster a workforce that is free of prejudice, bias, and stereotyping.

Two Essentials of Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is developed over time and includes self-awareness, guidance, training and experience. Embracing cultural diversity and promoting inclusion are two aspects of cultural competence.

Embracing cultural diversity means appreciating the differences in individuals from a variety of cultural and ethnic groups within an organization. Inclusion refers to the right of those groups to participate and have equity in all aspects of life.

A culture that celebrates cultural diversity & promotes inclusion must be interwoven into the framework of your facility's culture so that all residents feel like they belong. Residents must feel valued, respected, and unafraid to bring their backgrounds and perspectives to light.

Why Cultural Competence is Important

Unfortunately, studies indicate that there is often a disparity in the provision of quality care to residents from diverse cultural backgrounds. The reasons for these discrepancies vary from differences in beliefs and practices, language barriers, non-adherence to treatments, differences in lifestyle, thinking style, philosophy of life and other traits.

Unchallenged, this gap can lead to:

  • Inappropriate care
  • Social isolation
  • Discrimination and stereotyping
  • Emotional disturbances: frustration/sadness/depression
  • Ineffective Communication

How to Create a Culture of Inclusion

Staff can promote inclusion by being aware of the cultures represented in their organization and:

  • Paying attention to the nuances of each culture
  • Addressing communication barriers with interpreters and language cards
  • Protecting residents from all forms of discrimination by counseling anyone whose words and actions reflect ethnic prejudice
  • Including in Activity Programs engaging stories, deeds or triumphs regarding people from different countries
  • Responding to residents with respect, tolerance and compassion
  • Facilitating religious practices and needs
  • Being patient and understanding with long-held beliefs that are not among the dominant mainstream

Activity Program calendars should include cultural activities throughout the year. Celebrating and sharing food, music, and humour is one of the best ways to promote goodwill and tolerance.

Remember that you are there to integrate clients into your community. ‘Fitting-in' is important for everyone. Don't assume or generalize about how a client should behave without regard for individual differences and unique circumstances.

10 Tips for Embracing Cultural Diversity in Your Workplace

  1. Commit to boosting your own cultural competence by attending conferences and taking courses on cultural issues. Start by taking an interest in your colleagues from other countries.
  2. Remember that the golden rule "treat others as you would like to be treated" does not always apply when dealing with a diverse population. This proverb presumes that the person shares your worldview and passions. Instead, "Treat others the way they want to be treated" should be your guiding rule.
  3. Increase your pool of volunteers by attracting those who are sensitive to cultural issues and speak several languages.
  4. Involve residents' friends and relatives and encourage them to share recipes or volunteer for a cooking session.
  5. Celebrate clients' heritage with a ‘Finger Food Fest'. Have your kitchen staff prepare finger foods from the countries represented at your facility e.g. Dolmades, Falafel, Sushi, Samosas, Cornbread, Arepas, Fried Plantains.
  6. Feature a once-a-year party ‘Around the World in Fancy Dresses' where your clients can proudly showcase their traditional attire.
  7. Hold a poetry session with translated poems from famous non-English speaking poets relevant to your current residents like Pushkin, Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, and many others.
  8. Learn through phonetic dictionaries and translation cards the basic sentences and words of other languages.
  9. Establish procedures to identify and manage potential discrimination among staff and clients.
  10. Celebrate the national days of countries represented where you work. Read short, positive information about each country.


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Comments   Post a Comment

Helen 2nd Apr 2023
Hi I’m an activity lady for a care home after some advice for what activities I can do for colouring or make for showing cultural ideas in a box . Recently heard of culture boxes but not sure what activities are involved or what I can colour etc . Thx
Susan 3rd Apr 2023 Activity Director
Hi Helen
According to Google
You can put a variety of different things in your culture box, anything that shows who you are. For example: Pictures of friends, family, traditions, celebrations, etc. Things that are important to you like a CD album case, your favorite movie, or necklace your Grandmother gave you.
So it sounds to me like you can do whatever interests the Clients
Here are some coloring activities on golden carers
Danielle 11th Jun 2020 Therapeutic Activities Director
As a nursing home outside of Boston, Massachusetts, we have a VERY diverse population of staff from all over the world, especially Africa, Central America, and South America. Every year on Nursing Home Week we do special programs for the staff, and we always have an international lunch and dinner just for the staff that features food from the countries they are from. And we encourage staff to dress in "native clothing" and we play cultural music and decorate the room with all the flags of the countries that are represented in our staff (which are many!). The staff LOVE this event every year!

In activities on a smaller scale, I have had a cultural appreciation group, which is a multi sensory travel group where we explore a country like Haiti for example, where many of our staff are from...I print out pictures, play Youtube travel clips to that location, play music, bring food if I can...and I try to do it on an hour when I have nursing assistants helping who are from the same country. It was really special...and its nice to have the other staff involved in activities and enjoying it.
Susan 12th Jun 2020 Activity Director
Hi Danielle
I worked as an activity director for many years in a facility north of Boston
We had a lunch similar to what you described during
Nursing home week
The other ideas you have a very good and it’s always good if you can get the CNA’s involved in the activities
Thank you for sharing
It sounds like you are doing a great job
Solange 12th Jun 2020 Diversional Therapist
Hi Danielle, congratulations! This is what cultural competence is all about. Well done!
Carol 27th Feb 2019
As a volunteer I am on my own to create my own craft/ activity agenda and I have been planing to include a different country/ culture at least once a month using some of the information off your site. I have already used a few ideas with good response. I love the artist feature and have printed off some of the pictures for clients for color or paint and we talk about the artist. Never too old to learn something new. Thanks for the motivation to get going on my monthly plan.
Talita 2nd Mar 2019
Thanks so much for your feedback Carol. Your clients are so lucky to have you x
Susan 23rd Feb 2019 Activity Director
One good way to celebrate diversity is to celebrate international we are family day this can bring everyone in your facility together.

Another challenge is when some residents especially those with dementia show some prejudice which can be hurtful to the staff
It is a good idea to talk about kindness with your residents even though world kindness day is in November
Here are some ideas

Despite everyone's best effort's some residents can display hurtfulness
Owen 19th Feb 2019 Retired
Very interesting comments here. We had a Maori resident at The Redwood Club who said the grace before our midday meal always in the Maori language. He later left for care where he died and I took over his small contribution but not in Maori as I do not speak the language. However for Maori Language Week I researched a grace in Maori, printed off copies for all the residents and staff, reciting as best I could as a tribute to our own cultural heritage as well as competence. We could do this for other cultures among our residents as we have a Samoan, Pitcairn Islander, Dutch, Chinese, and two other Pacific Islanders in our small gathering. Let us do more for "Treating others the way they want to be treated" should be our guiding rule.
Talita 24th Feb 2019
Thanks for your feedback Owen. I love this gesture, what a simple and wonderful way to embrace your cultural heritage. You're right, this could be done for any number of cultures represented at a facility.
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