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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

"Making life better!"

man sitting below star quilt Suggestions for a culturally competent program

1. Include community input in planning and development, don’t wait until you have made all of the decisions on what will be done and how and then ask for community input.

2.Hire staff members who reflect your community. THINK ABOUT THIS: Reflecting the community doesn’t mean just looking like the people your program serves. We have seen many, many times where a program hires someone to work on a reservation who is an enrolled member from some other tribe, was brought up and educated in an urban area hundreds or thousands of miles away and has no idea about the obstacles, resources and expectations of the local community. Look beyond race, gender or ethnicity. Ask about the individual’s knowledge of the community, what programs he or she has worked with in the past, etc.

3. Make the environment comfortable for your clients. If it is common for parents to bring children with them to meetings, have toys and art supplies available for children to use while you meet with the parents.

4. We can’t say this enough – ask for help! If you are a new staff member, it is perfectly all right to ask your co-workers for help. You could ask people who come to your program for help as well – students, parents, consumers. Ask their advice on decorating your office or facility to make it more welcoming to people in the community. Ask their opinion on brochures, flyers and other recruitment material. Ask for suggestions for materials for the classroom, field trips and other resources. It doesn’t hurt to ask – it hurts not to.

5. Understand that how much one is involved in a culture varies by individuals within a group, and often within a family. A parent may have a much more traditional view of what is appropriate behavior, goals and expectations than does his or her child.

6. Your services may be culturally appropriate, but are they culturally accessible? The Administration on Aging sees a difference between culturally appropriate services and those that are culturally accessible. Appropriate services are those that show an understanding of the needs of consumers from a specific culture and provide the types of services they need.

“Culturally accessible service delivery in essence “opens the door” to services for minority elders. Culturally acceptable services are those that ethnic elders would want to walk through the door to receive. Many service doors have signs that say welcome but the place is not culturally competent. Opening the door requires that services be located in the community where the elders live and that admission procedures do not exclude elders based on such criteria as immigration status and language ability. Culturally accessible service delivery is created by addressing the structural barriers, which includes affordability, availability of service hours, location of service, transportation, as well as outreach and public information. An example of cultural inaccessibility is Native American elders’ abhorrence of the ‘white’ tape that surrounds services and elders’ unwillingness to accept services delivered as charity.” (From Administration on Aging Guidebook on Cultural Competence, P.30)

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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
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