Handling Multiculturality in Care

Practical background

The European countries are getting more and more multicultural and the aim of this project is to strengthen the employees in the eldercare sector managing value systems based on different cultural background both in their inter collegial communication and teamwork but also to strengthen the communication skills of the nursing staff communicating with their clients.

In the care sector these three challenges are observed for the coming decades:

  1. More employees with different cultural background
  2. Elderly in need of professional care will have a huge diversity of cultural backgrounds
  3. The existing teaching methods are not efficient, when taking future demands into account

The trend is that in recent years, there has been a lack of trained manpower in the field, and in spite of the economic crisis prevailing in Europe, there will continue to be shortage of care workers. One way of handling this shortage has been educating more nursing staff with other ethnic background.

It is especially important to understand cultural differences when working with care, both in the relationship between colleagues and in relation to the clients. This because of the very nature of the nursing and care task, where nursing staff gets very close to the people in need of care by breaking down their personal barriers and entering the clients intimate sphere.

Professor Dominique Bouchet has in his research shown that cultural differences may give rise to misunderstandings. One research, a study of the cultural differences between a French and Danish subdivision in an international company found that the employees neither possessed contingency nor tools to deal with these differences. If misunderstandings are not solved the situation may be locked and the psychological work environment slowly aggravated with negative consequences for the employees as well as for the citizens in need of care.

Studies points out that it is important for educational institutions to deal with the cultural differences both in training but also in relation to prepare their students for the differences at work.

This is also emphasized by the prediction of an increasing number of elderly with different ethnic background in need of receiving care from people outside the family stating the need of understanding older people's cultural background.

In addition, training in the care sector under its very specific contextual traits provides a number of challenges in terms of formal and informal training. Experience shows that it is very difficult to achieve sufficient effect when only one or a few employees attend a course. The new knowledge often drowns in everyday bustle and chores, and colleagues are often not receptive to new ideas and methods. At the same time it is difficult to organize training for all employees, because people need to be cared for 24/7. Experience also shows that education must be rooted in everyday practice to achieve maximum impact. Finally, the industry is often characterized by an extremely tight budget making it difficult to send many employees on further training.

As it is difficult to document the effect of different formal training methods it is consequently difficult to argue for more formal training on this field. This is why we want to invent new teaching methods combining experience with practical teaching.

There is a need to catch up new training ideas from other sectors and

experimenting with an adjustment to care based on the acknowledged frames and experiences.