This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.
Recognizing the need to provide culturally competent care to seniors
California’s senior population is entering a period of rapid growth. By 2030, as the Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age, the over-65 population will grow by four million people. It will also become much more racially and ethnically diverse, with the fastest growth among Latinos and Asians. Many more seniors are likely to be single and/or childless—suggesting an increased number of people living alone. All of these changes will have a significant impact on senior support services in California.
By 2030 the demand for nursing home care in California will begin to increase after decades of decline. California’s community college system will be critical in training workers to meet the state’s healthcare workforce needs for the growing and changing senior population.
The growing diversity of this aging population illustrates a growing need for culturally competent care—that is, care that respects the beliefs and responds to the linguistic needs of seniors from diverse backgrounds. Respect is at the heart of cultural competence–patients who feel their healthcare providers respect their beliefs, customs, values, language, and traditions are more likely to communicate freely and honestly, which can, in turn, reduce disparities in healthcare and improve patient outcomes.
Disparities in health-care and dissatisfaction are more pronounced among racial minorities. According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians received worse care and had worse access to care than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. The report also highlighted language barriers as a significant contributor to disparities in care. For example, patients who speak Spanish at home were more likely than patients who speak English at home to report poor communication with nurses.
When patients feel heard and understood by their healthcare providers, they are more likely to participate in preventive health care and less likely to miss health appointments. This can reduce medical errors and related legal costs for healthcare facilities, and it can improve health outcomes for patients. California, like other areas with increasing minority populations, will be well served to focus on creating culturally competent caregivers.