Research indicates significant issues in the provision of palliative care for Latinos. According to the National Institutes of Health, the disparities among minority groups in regards to access to care and the quality of that care is well documented. As a result of these ethnic and racial disparities, minority populations are often diagnosed with late-stage illness and experience inferior outcomes leading to increased suffering. With 17% of America’s population comprised of those of Hispanic/Latino descent, understanding the differing cultural perspectives between the health care professional and the minority patient is a challenge facing every major health care organization in the country.
The Institute’s new online course Culturally Competent Palliative Care for Latinos is designed to teach physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and anyone working with the Latino community how to appropriately support the “whole” person as well as their family and friends. It teaches health care professionals how to connect with Latino/Hispanic patients with serious or chronic illness in a way that recognizes and values their background, language and cultural traditions. The result is a better relationship between patient and provider as well as greater treatment compliance and a higher likelihood that patients will choose and receive care that enables them to achieve the best possible quality of life, especially in palliative care or hospice settings.
“We’ve partnered with Familias en Accion, the experts in helping health care professionals understand how to deliver Culturally Competent Palliative Care for Latinos. Familias en Accion understands the rapidly growing need for a deeper understanding of our cultural differences,” says Helen McNeal, executive director of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care.
Lack or misunderstanding of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options, low health literacy and cultural/language barriers all combine to limit access to palliative care for Latinos. Lack of palliative care leads to poorer quality of life for patients with severe chronic conditions and higher health care costs. All of these issues can lead to unnecessary readmissions and even clinical errors. “The reality is, in order to provide the best care possible to Latino/Hispanic patients and their families, we must reach a higher level of self-awareness and a deeper understanding of other cultural perspectives and that is what this unique course teaches,” said McNeal.
This short, impactful, two-week online course sensitizes participants to cultural challenges that can arise in every interaction with Latino patients and families served by hospice and palliative care. The result is that patients and families can be offered palliative care in ways that they understand and that reduces suffering and helps to enhance the healing process.