Felicia RNAO Fellow

Building Cultural Competence in Nursing to Enhance Patient Centered Care Amongst the Underserved and Disenfranchised

Felicia Kontopidis

Award: AMS/RNAO Fellow

Co-Sponsor: Saint Elizabeth Home Health Care

  • Provider wellness/resilience

Bringing awareness to health care providers about the health disparities amongst underserved and disenfranchised populations is an important step to developing cultural competence. According to Srivastava (2007), there is a cultural clash between the Canadian healthcare system and the individual client’s values and beliefs, along with a failure on the part of the healthcare providers to recognize diverse ways of expressing distress, can lead to miscommunication, misdiagnosis, and inappropriate care.

There is a definite gap in the way nurses approach care when they are confronted by patient dynamics that involve social and cultural issues. Learning more about general culture as well as cultural specific information, may guide the health care provider in knowing meaningful and appropriate questions to ask patients so that the care and goal planning is patient centred and patient focused.  Only then can we begin to effectively engage and involve the patient in a collaborative and meaningful approach to care that respects the patient’s wishes and desired outcomes. I strive to learn different ways of communicating, dialoguing, and simply just being with patients that have barriers to learning, understanding, and accepting health care advice. I plan to learn approaches to introducing different ways of interacting with the targeted population when there is a disagreement or gap in the care plan of that patient. Upon finding the source to the issue that may be impeding a patient’s health, having the knowledge and ability to accommodate an approach to care that would benefit the patient most, is a true accomplishment for both nurse and patient.

I will start with a focus on my own learning, gaining knowledge and expertise in the area of person centered care related to cultural diversity. I will then work with my mentor to incorporate relevant culturally competent frameworks. In order to integrate this framework or model, I will be engaging with nurses, but also other members of the home and community care team including personal support workers and therapists, starting from one service delivery centre, and eventual spreading it beyond, a strategy which I believe will start immediately to improve person centred care.