Developing Cultural Competence
Mee, a nurse assistant at a home health care company, is used to working with many different clients from a variety of backgrounds. Hashi is a new client receiving services from Mee’s company.
When Mee introduces herself to a new client, she likes to find out about the cultural background of that person. She generally asks a new client several questions including
Are there any foods that you do not eat?
What are some important holidays in your culture?
Are you comfortable with me touching you when I help you dress and bathe?
Mee has learned that asking questions like these at the beginning helps her to show that she is interested in a new client’s culture and helps her avoid cultural misunderstandings.
When Mee sits down to speak with Hashi, she begins by asking him to tell her about his culture. Hashi says that he is Somali and a practicing Muslim. He does not eat pork and eats only Halal meat, which is meat that is butchered and prepared in a special way.
Hashi explains that he prays five times a day and that he must wash his feet each time before he prays. He also tells Mee that in Somali culture, the right hand is used more than the left. He explains that it is considered impolite to offer food or a greeting using the left hand.
Hashi then tells Mee about Ramadan, the holy month of fasting that is celebrated by Muslims all over the world. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Mee listens carefully to everything that Hashi tells her. She carefully takes notes and asks questions when she needs clarification.
Mee is glad that she asked Hashi to tell her about his culture. She learned a lot of useful information that will help her care for her new client to the best of her ability.