Social workers and organizations providing social services need to support diversity, develop cultural competence, and consider their impact on cross-cultural interventions. According to Garthwait (2017), cultural competence is the ability to use “culturally appropriate” strategies and respect cultural differences, such as ethnicity, age, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (p. 111). Social work practice involves helping diverse clients from different economic, social, and linguistic backgrounds (Laureate Education, 2013). In the following essay, I will discuss the roles of diversity and cultural competence in an Adult Medical Daycare facility and explain how these factors might reflect my agency learning agreement.
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The statistics demonstrate that diversity among older populations will significantly increase in the future and require social work agencies and Adult Medical Care facilities to become culturally competent. Min (2005) suggests that the number of Hispanic older adults will “increase from 5.0% in 2000 to 27.8% in 2050” (p. 348). However, the number of elderly people from the White background is expected to “decrease from 83.7% to 61.3%” of the total population (Min, 2005, p. 348). I work as an intern at Vatsalya Adult Medical Day Care Center which provides support for its elderly and disabled residents from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The demographics reflect the facility’s racial and ethnic diversity, including 75% mixed minorities (Hispanic, Indian, and Chinese) and 25% African American and Caucasian populations.
The agency’s main goals are to encourage independence, restore psychological functioning, and improve the well-being of its diverse participants and families. Social workers and staff at Vatsalya follow the facility’s organizational policies and procedures requiring cultural competence and prohibiting stereotyping. While the resources are often limited, the facility never allows discrimination and strives to ensure fair allocation of nursing attention, physical therapy hours, medical equipment, and food supply. Garthwait (2017) claims that ethnic minority older adults do not receive proper healthcare/long-term care, so the affordability of my agency’s services is another aspect of promoting diversity because it removes barriers to quality care. Cultural competency and sensitivity are expressed by offering activities that provide our residents with opportunities for communication within their cultural group, and sharing ethnic pride, interests, history, and language.
Diversity and cultural competence reflect my agency learning agreement, as it describes essential responsibilities and abilities for students and demands ethical behavior, engagement in diversity and difference, and advancement in human rights and justice. The agency activities are targeted at helping the interns achieve cultural competence and apply it in social work practice. By participating in the activities, the students can learn to communicate effectively with diverse clients, colleagues, and peers, identify cultural and ethnic barriers, and overcome diversity issues. Working under supervision, as indicated in the agreement, might improve the intern’s understanding of cultural competence and diversity in a local setting. Moreover, cross-cultural collaborations may assist in expanding and strengthening networks between diverse clients and their communities in New Jersey.
Overall, diversity and cultural competence play an important role in social work, especially in an Adult Medical Care setting, because there is a growing tendency the increase minorities among older populations. Vatsalya Adult Medical Day Care Center promotes diversity via organizational policies and strategies, encouraging cultural sensitivity and inclusion. My learning agreement reflects the diversity and cultural competency, as it indicates several essential abilities and skills for interns, which aim to improve their understanding of the concepts. Thus, diversity and cultural competency are integral features of modern geriatric social work.
Garthwait, C. L. (2017). The social work practicum: A guide and workbook for students (7th ed.). Pearson.
Laureate Education. (Producer). (2013). Diversity/cultural competence [Audio file]. Web.
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Min, J. W. (2005). Cultural diversity: A key to effective social work with racially and ethnically diverse elders. Families in Society, 86(3), 347–358.