Hello to all of our Readers,
In this edition of the newsletter, we have chosen to highlight the importance of recognizing culture in a rehab setting.
As rehabilitation therapists, including OTs, RSWs, PTs, Massage Therapists and Social Workers, it is important to have an understanding of what it means to be a culturally competent therapist and how a client’s culture impacts the development of treatment.
As the number of minority, immigrant and ethnic populations increase in Canada, it is vital for health care providers to understand how cultural beliefs affect the health and health care of these clients.
Culture may be defined as, “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, education, religion, etc” (Webster’s Heritage Dictionary).
For example, humour is the most universally understood form of non-verbal communication. However, we cannot assume that the meaning of humour is the same in all cultures.
In some Asian cultures, a smile might mean that a person is uncomfortable or sad.
Understanding culture is important because it allows treatment providers to deliver services that are both respectful and responsive to health beliefs and practices of the clients. A better understanding of the client’s culture will lead to greater satisfaction of the client.
Some areas of culture that are important to recognize include: social norms and greetings, how does the person determine independence in activities of daily living, what leisure activities are important for him or her and familial roles within each specific culture.
Before therapists begin treatment and mutually with the client decide on goals, they must understand their client’s cultural beliefs and be sure to incorporate them within treatment.
Some cultural examples include:
- Cultures vary on their expectation of formality. Asian Americans may be more formal, especially elders (Liu, 2005)
- Some cultures, such as those from the Middle East, expect long greetings and inquiries about family members and their states of health. They may also expect offerings of food and drink (Ahmand, Alsharif, & Royeen, 2006).
- Some cultures, such as the Hmong, a husband or eldest son will make decisions for all members of the family (Leonard & Plotnikoff, 2000).
- Some cultures might prioritize certain daily activities, such as hygiene, dressing and eating, whereas others do not (Zemke & Clark, 1996).
Sometimes a lack of cultural sensitivity can lead the healthcare provider to make incorrect assumptions that have a negative impact on client care.
In 2011, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) released a position statement on occupational therapy and cultural safety which stated:
“To engage in effective, compassionate, culturally safe practice, it is the position of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) that the profession of occupational therapy must collaborate with diverse stakeholders to ensure that understandings of meaningful occupation are being properly defined as they apply to all people within Canadian society.
CAOT believes that through engagement in meaningful occupations health, well-being and justice are realized. To achieve the goal of health, well-being and justice for clients of occupational therapy, CAOT recognizes the need for building capacity for concepts of cultural safety within the profession”.
At GLA, we understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and ensure to incorporate our knowledge of culture into our treatment goals. We have therapists that speak a variety of languages including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Tamil, Russian, Hebrew, Serbian, Polish, Arabic, Punjabi, Hindi, Czech and Urdu.
The Chinese New Year, which fell in February 2016, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. To read more about the Chinese New Year, please read our Blog post, 5 Fun Things to Understand about Chinese New Year, written by Angel Chan, OT.
Please also read the Blog post, Understanding the Chinese Culture from a Service Provider’s Perspective, to better comprehend some important facts about the Chinese culture.
In addition, our other Blog post is related to the upcoming new SABS which in June 2016 will be introducing new requirements on the OCF-19 for CAT determination.
In order to prepare for these changes, we wanted to focus some blogs on the introduction of new psychiatric rating scales that will be used to combine the physical with mental/behavioural for CAT determination.
These 3 scales from the 6th edition of the AMA guides, include: the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), The Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF) and The Psychiatric Impairment Rating Scale (PIRS).
This month’s blog post will concentrate on The Psychiatric Impairment Rating Scale (PIRS). In April, we will look further at the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and The Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF). To read more about the PIRS, please read our Blog post.
Galit Liffshiz, MA OT Reg. (Ont.)
Expertise and Experience in Life Care Planning
Designated Capacity Assessor