Cultural Competency in Hospice Care: A Case Study of Hospice Toronto
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The population demographics of the greater Toronto Area are rapidly changing, with visible minorities comprising 43% of the GTA, and 10% of the total adult population of Canada. It is incumbent upon the health care sector to accommodate these changes in a culturally competent manner. Health care and culture intersect in the most delicate of ways during the last stages of life. The health care system must ensure that minorities have an equal access to end-of-life health care services and that their individual cultural beliefs and values are respected by culturally competent health care providers. Hence, this thesis examines the current state of cultural competence in hospice and palliative care in the Greater Toronto Area. This study will show the strengths and limitations of the current hospice care in terms of providing culturally competent care. To explore this topic in greater detail, my research is guided by the following questions: 1) What is the current state of culturally competent care in a hospice setting? 2) What are the challenges to providing culturally competent care in a hospice in the Greater Toronto Area? 3) What are some possible strategies for increasing competency within a hospice setting? To explore my research questions fully, I provide a critical analysis of six cultural competency theories, while integrating a social determinants of health framework, focusing on the theory of social exclusion and minority health care. This case study analysis is enhanced by the 14 in-depth interviews of hospice volunteer participants and 1 administrator. There are six major findings in this research. First, volunteer participants encountered cultural clashes when their levels of cultural competency were weak. Second, volunteer participants revealed there was a lack of adequate cultural competency training with the hospice. Third, volunteer participants gave abundant suggestions for improving cultural competency training. Fourth, volunteer participants perceived the hospice to be unsupportive of some of their needs. Fifth, the lack of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of the hospice volunteer participants was noted. Last, the lack of religiosity amongst the volunteer participants was surprising. This research is significant for its Canadian hospice volunteer focus and the findings will be beneficial in practice for patients, their families, volunteers, and other health care providers, by providing the knowledge and tools necessary to enhance their level of cultural competency.