In healthcare settings, culturally competent organizations entail systems that have developed the capacity to not only provide care to patients with diverse cultural and racial values, beliefs, expectations and behaviors, but also to tailor or customize the delivery of care with the view to satisfactorily meeting the patients’ social, cultural, racial and linguistic needs and hence substantially reducing racial and ethnic inequities in health care (Alvarez, Marroquin, Sandoval, & Carlson, 2014).
This paper looks into the concept of culturally competent care by discussing the need for culturally competent organizations, organizational theories related to the development of these organizations, and barriers to creating a culturally competent organization.
Need for Culturally Competent Organizations
In the United States, the need to develop culturally competent organizations has been reinforced by the fact members of minority groups are predicted to represent the majority of the population in the near future and will therefore need systems of health care that will have the capacity to satisfactorily meet the patients’ social, cultural, racial and linguistic needs (Alvarez et al., 2014).
Owing to the fact that the population is increasingly becoming diverse, there is need for stakeholders in the American health care system to develop structures of care that will have the capability to keep minority populations healthy by removing the barriers to care, hence the need to develop culturally competent organizations.
Currently, there is adequate evidence demonstrating that members of minority cultural and racial groups in the United States continue to encounter increased barriers to care, high prevalence of chronic health conditions, inferior quality of care and soaring mortality rates than Whites, thus the need to develop healthcare organizations that not only acknowledge the importance of culture but also adapt their services to meet culturally unique needs (Kersey-Matusiak, 2013).
Owing to the fact that the delivery of high quality health care in a culturally competent environment requires a thorough comprehension of the sociocultural background of patients, their families and their environments, the Culhane-Pera Model of Cultural competency, the Campinha-Bacote’s cultural competence theory, as well as the transnational competency theory have found wide usage in developing culturally competent organizations. The Culhane-Pera theory follows five stages, from limited or no recognition of culture on health care to the application of cultural competence in all aspects of health care (Kelly, 2011).
The transnational competency theory ascertains that “transnational competency training is an improved version of the cultural competency training model and involves broadening the definition of culture, addressing student biases, and implementing more application-based training” (Kelly, 2011, p. 39).
Lastly, the Campinha-Bacote’s cultural competence theory involves “five dimensions including cultural desire, cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill, and cultural encounters” (Kelly, 2011, p. 39).
According to this theory, organizations must first develop cultural desire to fully comprehend cultural issues, before moving into the stage of cultural awareness which is aimed at recognizing the cultural issues involved. Afterwards, they must initiate cultural knowledge to learn the beliefs, traditions, and values of other cultures, before internalizing cultural skill (demonstrated by possessing cultural desire and awareness) and applying cultural knowledge and skills to the care of specific patients through cultural encounters.
Barriers to Creating Culturally Competent Organizations
The barriers to creating culturally competent organizations include (1) lack of adequate employee training on cultural competency, (2) the misplaced perception that United States is a level playing field for individuals irrespective of their cultural orientations, (3) unwillingness of people to talk about cultural diversity, and (4) lack of funds needed to roll out programs on cultural competency (Kersey-Matusiak, 2013).
Drawing from this discussion, it is evident that culturally competent organizations are a necessity in the American health care system if stakeholders are to succeed in minimizing racial and ethnic oriented barriers to health care delivery.
Alvarez, K., Marroquin, Y.A., Sandoval, L., & Carlson, C.I. (2014). Integrated healthcare best practices and culturally and linguistically competent care: Practitioner perspectives. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 36(2), 99-114.
Kelly, P.J. (2011). Exploring the theoretical framework of cultural competency training. Journal of Physician Assistant Education, 22(4), 38-43.
Kersey-Matusiak, G. (2013). Delivering culturally competent nursing care. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.