Cultural Competence the World in Term Paper

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There are also some generalizations that do not include all, but some, Puerto Rican culture: conversations are usually very interactive and full of interruptions. Interruptions mean interest in the subject discussed; silence denotes disinterest rather than paying close attention. If someone is talking to someone else and a third person joins in, the people talking are expected to stop what they are saying and acknowledge the newcomer. Also, it is rude for a man to dance too close to a woman who is not his wife or girlfriend, even if others seem to be doing it. It is considered vulgar and ostentatious to open gifts in public. Gifts are never opened in front of a group of people to avoid people comparing the merits of different gifts.

One of the main areas of differences between cultures is in nonverbal communication. If people are not aware of these differences, there can be misunderstandings. Certain aspects of non-verbal communication are universal. Research into facial expression in particular seems to suggest a strong agreement across cultural boundaries (Shaver, et al.). However, the extent to which feelings and emotions are expressed through facial expression is culture bound. In other words, although people from different cultures are likely to agree on the emotions or feelings that a certain facial expression communicates, they are unlikely to attribute the same importance. For example Asian cultures are often characterized as less expressive in facial expressions than Latin cultures.

Multicultural or culturally competent social workers are able to differentiate between generalizations and stereotypes and determine the care that is needed based on a person's cultural background. For example, delivering quality health and social services to Hispanics is about being proficient in the art of listening and communicating with patients from a variety of backgrounds; understanding that their needs occurs in a holistic environment and incorporating an understanding of a person's unique family, work, spiritual, and physical environment into services; and, ensuring that the institutional structures of services act to encourage rather than discourage access to care. Increasingly, social workers, for instance, are becoming more involved with helping families in healthcare situations. As noted above with the story of the nurse and the Mexicans, an idea of generalizations of culture and healthcare can be very helpful. There are certain cultural nuances or unwritten rules that govern social interactions with all cultures, including the Puerto Rican communication. These unstated rules can impact how people perceive, seek, and receive services. These essential cultural aspects can involve interactions as simple as conversational gambits and spatial (physical space) relationships, along with larger institutional issues such as family visiting hours, patient education, and measuring individual responses to pain. Being aware and understanding the cultural context for these interactions can be a tremendous asset a social worker and/or health care professional (NAHH, 23).


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