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CASE STUDY: CULTURAL COMPETENCY COUNTS AT GALTIER HEALTH CENTER
Galtier health center is a nursing home located in St. Paul, Minnesota, a state whose Hmong population is second only to that in California (Tate 2009). The Hmong comprises people who originated from or have ancestors in mountain villages in Vietnam, Laos, China, Burma, and Thailand. Since 1992, Galtier has been providing LONG TERM CARE services to the Hmong community. This focus has led Galtier to develop several innovative approaches to delivering culturally competent long term care.
First, Galtier partners with Hmong groups, leaders, businesses, organizations and other interested parties in the community. In this way, Galtier is able to educate the community about skilled nursing and promote the services it offers and the benefits that a Hmong family can realize by sending their elderly to Galtier’s facility. This outreach is critical, especially because in the Hmong language the term “nursing home” is nonexistent.
Second, Galtier actively recruits staff from the Hmong community. Galtier has many native Hmong speakers on staff, enabling the facility to communicate well with its patients and their families about their healthcare needs and preferences. In this way, the care or treatment is culturally and medically competent. For example, if an elderly man develops an illness, the Galtier staff will not just administer the required medications to alleviate pain and discomfort but will also approach the illness holistically, because the Hmong believe that an ailment has physical and spiritual aspects. A healer may be called in, and this person will work with the staff and the physician to develop treatments and therapies that combine Hmong traditions with Western medicine.
Third, Galtier works with its Hmong community partners through its Southeast Asian Committee, whose membership includes Galtier’s staff and leadership and community members. Additionally, Galtier has established a Hmong Resident Council. The committee and the council ensure that the Hmong residents at Galtier are given a voice. In this way, Galtier can respond to these residents’ concerns, make changes according to their suggestions, and incorporate or adopt cultural practices and preferences (e.g., making rice a dietary sample; bringing in a shaman or healer) into daily operations and care delivery.
Galtier’s close association with the Hmong community it serves ensures that the nursing home remains respectful of the Hmong people and their cultural traditions, achieves active participation from the Hmong residents and the larger community, and improves the Hmong elders’ quality of life.
Case study question
Discuss three key strategies used to ensure a culturally competent LTC environment.
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