Chapter 1 Foster Cultural Competence Introduction

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Chapter 1

Foster Cultural



Since the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards were issued in 2000, the concept of cultural competence has evolved. An early focus on racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity has expanded to include the myriad factors that contribute to a person’s culture and experiences with health services.

Enhanced in 2013, CLAS standards broaden culturally appropriate services to define them as services that are effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful, as well as responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy and other communication needs.

The enhanced CLAS standards underscore cultural identity as a key characteristic that includes but goes beyond race, ethnicity or languages spoken. Offering culturally competent care can mean responding to diversity stemming from education, health literacy, age, gender, income, sexual orientation, religion, disability status, socioeconomic class and access to care, among others.

Though the prospect of meeting such diverse needs may seem daunting, the principle behind cultural competence remains the same: offering client-centered care. As one Massachusetts provider put it, “no one can be an expert in all cultures… but everybody can be responsive to client needs.”

The need to provide competent care for racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse clients is still very much in effect. This manual also offers strategies to meet new requirements in the CLAS guidelines, namely:

  • Improving health equity by identifying and reducing health disparities

  • Promoting CLAS through leadership and policy

  • Becoming responsive to diverse cultures, beliefs and practices

  • Creating a welcoming environment for racially and ethnically diverse clients, LGBT persons, persons with disabilities and persons with low health literacy

  • Offering understandable, respectful care to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, who have disabilities, or who have low literacy, as well as clients with limited English proficiency (See Chapter 6 for further guidance on services for LEP persons)

Directory: eohhs -> docs -> dph -> health-equity
dph -> Cheryl bartlett, rn commissioner
dph -> Early Intervention Partnerships Program (eipp) Standards of Care Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, & Special Health Needs June 2010
dph -> Introduction to Strengthening Families: An Effective Approach to Supporting Families
dph -> I. Rationale : bsas is committed to equality in treatment services regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Access to and quality of treatment services should not vary because of the individual’s gender
health-equity -> Massachusetts Department of Public Health Literature Review to inform
dph -> State Health Plan Behavioral Health Massachusetts Department of Public Health December 2014
dph -> Type 1 diabetes cluster investigation: weston, wellesley and newton

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