The importance of culturally and linguistically diverse care

Ben Johnston, Country Manager Australia, Homage

In this guest post, Homage country manager Ben Johnston shares how they approach personal care with a diverse workforce. Originally established in Asia, Homage launched in Australia around twelve months ago with an on-demand home, community and facility-based care service.

Australia is a melting pot of cultures. Our vibrant communities differ from suburb to suburb and region to region; today, Australians come from over 270 ethnic groups and speak over 300 languages in the home. As one of the world’s most diverse countries, we must effectively bridge cultural and communication barriers to deliver the best possible care, especially with how personal care can be.

Language is the foundation of communication and the basis upon which most relationships are built. When patients know that they can express their concerns and receive assurance in their native language, it makes the process of care less intimidating for them. Effective communication also means that patients enjoy a higher quality of care and can build a positive relationship with their care professional, leading to a smoother experience overall.

The importance of diversity in the care community, of course, goes beyond language. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety cited the need for “safe care” which acknowledges, respects and values people’s diverse needs. Cultural diversity in the care industry ensures a point of reference for both the care recipient and the care provider, helping to set boundaries and expectations that both are comfortable with without compromising the quality of the care delivered.

By engaging a diverse group of care professionals, organisations and care facilities ensure they can provide the safest and most respectful care for patients, which is also individually tailored to personal needs and preferences. Knowledge and experience can be shared within the care teams, providing learning opportunities for care professionals to expand on their ability to truly care for anyone anywhere. 

At Homage, we have first, second, third and more generations of Australians from a cross-section of countries around the globe. Our teams speak 93 languages – including sign language – and come from varied religious backgrounds, as well as count themselves members and/or supporters of the LGBTQIA community. We have seen first-hand how this diversity facilitates the delivery of ‘safe care’ for the families and communities that we serve.

For example, we are seeing more detailed care requests come through for the types of Care Professionals (CPs) that our care recipients would like to be matched with. Some might want CPs fluent in a certain language because the patient only speaks that language. Sometimes families may request a CP that is familiar with the traditions of a particular culture, or who belong to a particular gender, due to religious and cultural sensibilities.

In most cases, care is provided to families by CPs from different cultural backgrounds. However, the barrier of difference can be overcome by shared interests and experiences. One CP spent an afternoon bonding with a brain injury patient over their mutual love for cricket. Another was able to connect with an elderly care recipient due to their shared appreciation of Greek movies.

In a separate case, a recipient who was struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness requested an LGBTQIA+ friendly CP for social support. The CP assigned to him shared stories of her own loneliness when she moved to Australia; this made such an impact that the recipient asked for her to provide ongoing support, including phone calls when he did not feel up to in-person visits, as he really felt she understood his feelings.

As Australia’s diverse community continues to evolve and expand, so too does our commitment to providing care to anyone, anywhere. Thanks to technology, we can truly understand and anticipate our capacity to provide the support required by our care recipients. We work with data and AI to help individuals who offer home-based care,  businesses that support individual care needs, and facilities that manage care directly.

Care is personal, but the need for it is universal – and diversity is the bridge that connects them both.


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