|Condition||Exclusion of Case|
(e.g. the child with condition)
|Exclusion of contacts|
(e.g. other family members)
|Diarrhoea (no organism identified)|
|Hand, foot and mouth disease|
|Head lice (Pediculosis)|
Always listen to the parent’s concerns and avoid interrupting with immediate explanations or justifications; it is important that the parents feel that their concerns have been heard and that you have shown an interest in the parent’s welfare as well as the child’s.
Finding solutions/answer to both your concerns and the parents is part of the consultative process, ask for the parent’s opinion, together you could brainstorm as many solutions as possible, then collaboratively evaluate the pros and cons of each solution.
Examples of Risks, Situations, and Concerns Parents May Consider When Enrolling Their Child in the Centre Who Has Asthma:
- What are the potential sources of exposure to their asthma triggers?
- Where will the potential source of exposure to their asthma triggers occur?
- Are all staff (including relief staff, visitors and parent/carer volunteers) aware of which children have asthma/anaphylaxis or existing health conditions?
- Does the bullying policy include health-related bullying?
- Is there age-appropriate health education for children at the service and are children actively encouraged to seek help if they feel unwell?
- Do you have current up-to-date health information available at the service for parents/carers?
- What are the lines of communication in the children’s service?
- What is the process for enrolment at the service, including the collection of medical information and Action Plans for medical conditions?
- Who is responsible for the health conditions policy, the medications policy, Asthma Action Plans and Risk Minimisation plans?
- Does the child have an Asthma Action Plan and where is it kept?
- Do all service staff know how to interpret and implement Asthma Action Plans in an emergency?
- Do all children with asthma attend with their blue/grey reliever puffer and a spacer? (a children’s face mask is recommended for children unable to use a spacer correctly, consider face mask use in children under 5 years old)
- Where are the Asthma Emergency Kits kept?
- Do all staff and visitors to the service know where Asthma Emergency Kits are kept?
- Who is responsible for the contents of Asthma Emergency Kits? (checking reliever medication expiry dates, replacing spacers and face masks as needed)
- Do you have one member of staff on duty at all times who has current and approved Emergency Asthma Management training?
- Who else needs training in the use of asthma emergency equipment?
- Do you have a second Asthma Emergency Kit for excursions?
- What happens if a child’s reliever medication and spacer are not brought to the service?
- Does the child have any other health conditions, such as allergies or anaphylaxis?
- Do they have an Action Plan and Risk Minimisation plan for each health condition?
- Do plants around the service attract bees, wasps or ants?
- Have you considered planting a low-allergen garden?
- Have you considered where food and drink consumption and disposal is occurring? (including food and drink consumed by all staff and visitors)
- Could traces of food allergens be present on craft materials used by the children? (e.g. egg cartons, cereal boxes, milk cartons)
- Do your cleaners use products that leave a strong smell, or do you plan to renovate or paint the centre when children are present?
- Do your staff use heavy perfumes or spray aerosol deodorants while at work?
- Are you in a bushfire-prone area where controlled burning may occur?
- What special activities do you have planned that may introduce children to asthma triggers?
Parents’ knowledge and understanding of their child is integral to the work of the centre’s support team. The process of identifying an individual child’s support needs and monitoring these needs throughout the centre support team structure is an important aspect of the child’s learning.
It is important that all staff ensure that any concerns or questions about a child’s health needs are presented and raised by the child’s family.
These concerns will characteristically focus on how staff at the centre can best meet the needs and requirements of the child’s health needs/requirements and should assist staff to complete your Medical Management Plans, Risk Minimisation Plans and your Communication Plans.
Examples of Risks, Situations, Concerns to Consider When Enrolling a Child and Completing the Health Risk Minimisation Plans
- What are the triggers (is sufficient information provided in their medical management plan)?
- What and where are the potential sources of exposure to the triggers?
- Are there any special activities that may introduce children to triggers?
- Does the child have age appropriate health education and is the child able to seek help if they feel unwell actively?
- Do families have relevant and up-to-date health information available at home?
- What communication would the families like to receive regarding the child?
- Does the child have a medical management plan or inclusion support plan completed by their doctor/specialist?
- Do families know and understand the centre’s health conditions policy, the medications policy, exclusions policy?
- Does the child have a Medical Action Plan and where is it kept?
- What medication is required and what are the details of the administration?
- Are there any specific training requirements necessary for the appropriate of use equipment/medication?
- Is the child able to participate in excursions/outings?
- Does the child have any other health conditions, such as allergies, asthma or anaphylaxis?
- Does the child have an Action Plan and Risk Minimisation plan for each health condition?
Upon enrolment individual routines of children must also be discussed with the families of the children, to ensure that the individual children’s and the families’ requirements for comfort and welfare are considered.
Issues about daily routines, such as rest, sleep, dressing and toileting/nappy changing, vary due to a range of factors including home routines and child development. These individual children’s health requirements and routines should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Issues that may influence a child’s individual requirements for these routines include:
- the child’s and families social and cultural background,
- their personal preferences; and
- the routines and activities that are in place at home.
A centre that has extensive knowledge of each child and their family can assist staff in developing strategies that are consistent with home, reflect common values and provide learning opportunities for individual children.
Centre meals must be prepared and served in consideration of each child’s individual allergies, likes and dislikes and eating abilities. Where the special need relates to religion or health issues, the menu and program can often be varied to accommodate this need and or individual programs may be developed to incorporate physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.
Regulation 168 of the National Law requires Early Education and Care services to have a medical conditions policy that details the following:
- the management of medical conditions including asthma, diabetes or a diagnosis that a child is at risk of anaphylaxis
- the nominated supervisor, staff members and volunteers are to be informed of agreed practices in relation to managing those medical conditions
- a child enrolled at the service who has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition, must have in place:
- a medical management plan provided by the parents of the child and for the medical management plan to be followed in the event of a related incident; and
- a risk minimisation and communications plan (regulation 90)
This policy applies at any time that a child with specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition is being educated and cared for by an education and care service, including during excursions. Preparations for high-risk scenarios, including establishing clear decision-making processes for calling an ambulance, should be addressed in the medical conditions policy.
The medical conditions policy must provide for the management of any medical condition that an enrolled child may have, which may not be limited to asthma, diabetes and a diagnosis that a child is at risk of anaphylaxis. Specific health care needs, allergies or relevant medical conditions may be ongoing or acute/short-term in nature.
The medical conditions policy must be followed (regulation 170) and be readily accessible and available for inspection at all times the service is educating and caring for children or on request (regulation 171).
Parents Require a Copy
A copy of the medical conditions policy must be provided to the parent of a child enrolled at the service who has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition (regulation 91).
When a child is enrolled who has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition:
A medical management plan, risk minimisation plan and communications plan must be prepared for every child who is enrolled who has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition (regulation 90(1)(c)). Generally, a registered medical practitioner will have been consulted in the diagnosis and management of a specific healthcare need, allergy or relevant medical condition.
Medical Management Plan
A parent of the child must provide a medical management plan for the child. This medical management plan must be followed in the event of an incident relating to the child’s specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition (regulation 90(1)(c)(i) and (ii)).
Best practice is that the child’s registered medical practitioner is consulted by parents in the development of the medical management plan and that the advice from the medical practitioner is documented in the medical management plan.
The medical management plan should detail the following:
- details of the specific healthcare need, allergy or relevant medical condition including the severity of the condition
- any current medication prescribed for the child
- the response required from thes service about the emergence of symptoms
- any medication required to be administered in an emergency
- the response required if the child does not respond to initial treatment when to call an ambulance for assistance.
Risk Minimisation Plan
A risk-minimisation plan must be developed in consultation with the parents of a child and ensure:
- that the risks relating to the child’s specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition are assessed and minimised;
- if relevant, that practices and procedures are in place including the safe handling, preparation, consumption and serving of food are developed and implemented; and
- that the parents are notified of any known allergens that pose a risk to a child and strategies for minimising the risk are developed and implemented; and
- that all staff members and volunteers can identify the child, the child’s medical management plan and the location of the child’s medication are developed and implemented; and
- if relevant, to ensure that practices and procedures are ensuring that the child does not attend the service unless the child has at the service their relevant medications if this would pose a significant risk (regulation 90(1)(iii)).
A communications plan must be prepared (regulation 90(1)(iii)) to set out how:
- relevant staff members and volunteers are informed about the medical conditions policy; and,
- the medical management and risk minimisation plans for the child; and
- a parent of the child can communicate any changes to the medical management plan and risk minimisation plan for the child
The communication plan must set out how the above communication will occur.
The following concepts of the Framework are explored in the guide:
- belonging, being and becoming and their links to learning
- principles, practices and pedagogy, including play and partnerships with families, to support learning reflective practice
- curriculum decision making to foster children’s learning in areas identified by five broad Learning Outcomes
- facilitating children’s transitions in the early years
- developing cultural competence
- Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competence using theoretical perspectives
This is an excellent resource for centres and centre staff. The guide outlines each of the seven quality areas in the National Quality Standard and includes:
- an introductory statement for each quality area, which provides context and the rationale, as well as a list of the standards and elements that fall within the quality area
- a list of the relevant sections of the National Law and National Regulations that apply to the quality area
- a description of each standard and an explanation about how it contributes to quality education and care for children
- reflective questions for the service to consider when working towards each standard
- A guide to practice for each element, which describes how the element might be put into practice at the service and how the element may be assessed. This consists of guidance applicable to all service types and children of all ages, followed by any specific guidance identified for the service type or age of the children.
- suggestions for further reading, summarised by quality area, to support readers’ understanding of the quality area
A copy is available at the following link: Guide to the National Quality Framework (2018)
Guided by the NQF
A centre’s approach to establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for children can be guided by requirements in the NQF, the NQS and recommendations of the Early Years Learning Framework.
In an Early Childhood Education and care setting, the commitment to the safety and well-being of all children and young people who access the services; and the welfare of the children and young people in care, must always be the first priority.
Everyone within the centre has a role to play in ensuring a safe environment for children and young people. This includes management, employees and volunteers working with children and young people or in close proximity to them and employees with access to the records of children and young people.
A recommended approach to ensuring that this commitment is met may be to appoint a child safety officer as the first point of contact to provide advice and support, to employees, volunteers, children, parents and caregivers regarding the safety and well-being of children and young people accessing the centre.
The child safety officer could also be responsible for monitoring the child safety policy and practices, including any ongoing training needs relating to child protection issues.
Note: appointing of a child safety officer is provided as a recommendation only and is not a mandatory requirement for a centre’s child safety policy.
Part of your role in the centre will be to follow the appropriate practices and requirements under the NQF, NQS and the EYLF. Understanding how to navigate through the framework and standards documents to find recommended or required practices to meet the national quality rating and assessment process for approval of centres is a necessary part of this.
The following table gives you an outline of how establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment meets the different areas of the NQS and EYLF.
- National Quality Standard
- Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice
- Quality Area 2: Children’s health and safety
- Quality Area 3: Physical environment
- Quality Area 4: Staffing arrangements
- Quality Area 5: Relationships with children
- Quality Area 6: Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Quality Area 7: Governance and leadership
- Early Years Learning Framework
- Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
- High expectations and equity
- Respect for diversity
- Ongoing learning and reflective practice
- Holistic approaches
- Responsiveness to children
- Learning through play
- Intentional teaching
- Learning Environments
- Cultural competence
- Continuity of learning and transitions
- Assessment for learning
- Children have a strong sense of identity
- Children are connected to and contribute to their world
- Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
- Children are confident and involved learners
- Children are effective communicators
- NQF & NQS Resources
For further information about the ACECQA, the Education and Care Services National Law and Education and Care Services National Regulations, National Quality Standards and the assessment rating system, please visit the following website: https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/about
One of the realities of life is that whenever you have two or more people relating to one another, you have the potential for conflict. Conflict may occur between you and the care recipient or a colleague on your team. Conflict can occur for a variety of reasons and when it does, it can be very challenging for the persons in conflict.
For the purposes of this unit, it is important to recognise when a conflict is caused by cross-cultural issues. For example, there may be a difference in cultural values which have resulted in misunderstandings and behaviours that can be detrimental to the care relationship.
Dupraw and Axner (1997) suggest that there are six fundamental patterns of cultural differences; the ways that cultures vary from one another. It would be helpful to reflect upon them for a moment.
a) Different communication styles
Communication styles between and even within cultures can vary considerably. It is estimated that there are approximately 6912 languages in the world today (http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/worldlanguages.htm). Even in those places where the English language is shared for example, the meaning of some words varies considerably. As well as this, the significance given to non-verbal communication, body language (including gestures and facial expression) and tone and pitch of voice varies as well. For some, raised voices can be a sign that a fight has begun whereas for others it is an indicator that the conversation is getting exciting.
b) Different attitudes towards conflict
Some cultural groups view conflict as something that needs to be avoided whereas in other groups it is considered something positive. For example in many Eastern countries, open conflict is generally seen as embarrassing or shameful, whereas identifying conflicts and analysing them is more typical of a Western approach.
c) Different approaches to completing tasks
The different approaches (from culture to culture) to dealing with tasks can be for a number of reasons:
- Resources available
- Perceptions of rewards associated with task completion
- Notions of time
- Importance of relationship building and task completion and how those two interact
d) Different decision-making styles
Cultural experience can influence the way that a person engages with the decision making process. Some examples of culturally influenced decision making styles are:
- Decisions are delegated by an official person to subordinates
- Individuals see the value of making the decisions themselves
- Groups of people make decisions which can mean majority rules or consensus is the goal
e) Different attitudes towards disclosure
Culture influences the degree that a person is comfortable to disclose information about feelings and thinking. Consequently, questions that you may feel comfortable to ask and answer may seem intrusive to others.
f) Different approaches to knowing
The ways people come to know things can vary significantly between cultures. European cultures for example have a preference for acquiring knowledge through cognitive means whereas African cultures prefer more emotional ways of knowing that include rhythm and symbolic imagery.
In addition to these, cross cultural conflict can be caused because of:
- Stress and anxiety
- A lack of understanding of the cultural of the other person
- Stereotypical thinking
- Racist remarks
- Ethnic issues
Attempting to resolve cross cultural misunderstandings can be a very complicated and difficult process at times. Discussing difficulties with appropriate people and seeking assistance from them can be a very helpful strategy. You may decide to seek outside assistance if:
- You do not know enough about the cultural background of the parties in conflict
- You are struggling to understand the issues at the centre of the conflict
- You find it hard to communicate with either of the parties in conflict
- Either of the parties in conflict is refusing to cooperate with resolution discussions and strategies
- You are too close to the conflict yourself to be objective
- Either of the parties in conflict have requested outside assistance
- You simply feel out of your depth
There are a number of people that you could discuss issues with or seek assistance. For example you may contact:
- Your supervisor
- Your line manager
- Training providers/educators to provide additional education regarding the issues causing conflict and how to deal with them
- Advocacy services
- Social workers
- Family members and friends of the parties in conflict
- Other team members/work colleagues who have understanding of the issues causing conflict or who have experience with cross cultural conflict resolution
- Clergy personnel or members from relevant faith communities
- Relevant community groups
- Allied health professionals
Once you have decided on whom to contact, you should plan what it is that you want to say and what information/help you are seeking. You then need to communicate this in a calm, clear and concise manner.
Most care organizations have grievance policies and procedures which outline a formal approach to resolving conflict. It may be that if the conflict cannot be resolved in the ways already described that the organisation’s grievance procedures will need to be engaged. It is important that you are familiar with these policies and procedures so that you can engage them appropriately, or help others to engage them appropriately should this be necessary.
If a conflict is occurring that is caused by a cultural disagreement, it is essential that the attitudes, values or belief systems of each of the parties in conflict are sensitively considered in an attempt to identify clashes that may have occurred with them. The greater the understanding one has of the issues, the more able he/she will be able to participate in successful resolution of the conflict. More harm can be caused if cultural issues are ignored or the conflict resolution process is handled insensitively. Many care organizations will have policies and procedures relating to cultural conflict resolution and it is important that these are consulted, and the processes described in them engaged in a sensitive manner.
Make an effort to sensitively resolve differences, taking account of cultural considerations
If a conflict has occurred, it is important to remember that it will not go away if it is ignored. If handled correctly, conflict can provide the opportunity for growth and understanding and for the strengthening of child/parent/team relationships. Some guidelines for behaviour when dealing with conflict are:
a) Be aware of your own intrapersonal journey and address your:
- Issues of judgment
- Stereotypical thinking
- Race and ethnic attitudes
b) Listen carefully to what is being said about the causes of the problem.
- Seek/confirm your understanding of what is being said by reflecting what you have heard and asking questions that explore the issues in conflict. When you communicate, explain things simply and clearly.
- Be objective and take the time to understand all sides of the conflict.
- Be patient and relaxed. Don’t get caught up in arguments about the conflict.
- Recognise the value of having all parties contribute to the resolution process. You don’t have to have all the answers yourself and to present as though you do may damage the relationship between you and the other person/s.
- It is important to deal with the issues and symptoms of the conflict and not to attack the other person. Encouraging the use of “I” statements is very helpful here as it enables the person to express how they feel without placing blame or creating the need for a defensive response from the other person (e.g. I feel very upset when you tell jokes about my homeland because my homeland is very special to me).
A simple four stage process to deal with cross cultural conflict is:
Stage 1: Obtain a clear understanding of what the problem is.
You may be one party involved in a conflict or seeking to be a part of the resolution process between other parties. It is important to make sure that all parties involved in the conflict are given the opportunity to have their say. This is often done via one on one discussion at this stage. Discussion you’re your supervisor or line manager about the conflict may be a helpful activity at this stage in the resolution process. Remember that if you feel you are out of you depth playing a leading roll in the conflict resolution process, consideration should be given (where possible) to the use of an objective facilitator.
By the end of this stage, you should be able to produce a clear and concise statement that summarises what the problem is.
Stage 2: Clearly identify the causes of the problem.
This requires that all the parties of the conflict come together and are given the opportunity to speak about what the issues are for them and how they feel about them. Respect for one another is very important here and personal attack or rudeness should not be tolerated. It may be that not everybody agrees at this point and that is alright. People can agree to differ and still concur on strategies to resolve the issue.
Your goal at this time is to seek to obtain enough information to answer the following questions:
- What is the cultural issue causing the problem?
- Why is/are the person/people upset?
- What behaviours/communication has contributed to the conflict?
It can be very helpful to obtain advice about the situation from a person who is familiar with the cultural issues.
Stage 3: Implement Solutions:
Two things happen at this stage. First, possible solutions are identified and then all parties in conflict are encouraged to decide on the most appropriate solution. Once decided upon, a clear summary of the solution/s chosen is given and cooperation of all parties to implement the chosen strategy/s is confirmed.
Stage 4: Review strategy outcomes:
It is important once a resolution strategy has been implemented that a review of its success is carried out. If the strategy has not been successful, then the probability is that the conflict will still be active. If we do not review, we might not know this is the situation and so be ignorant of the need for the conflict to still be resolved.
When planning the review, answer the following questions:
- When will the review happen?
- Who will do the review?
- What questions will be asked and of who?
Sometimes it will be necessary to seek assistance from others with cross cultural communication experience when you find it difficult to understand the other person or they find it difficult to understand you. When communication is not going well, you or the other person may feel frustrated or angry and may give up on trying to communicate and seek to withdraw from interaction with those with whom you find communicating a challenge.
If the communication process is not proving to be very successful, assistance may be sought from:
- Your supervisor
- Other team members
- Other care recipients
- Translator/translator services
Language barriers impede a person’s ability to communicate a message in a way that the other person can understand or in a way that they can comprehend what is being said to them. Most people find it easier to communicate using the first language they have learnt rather than by using one that they have learnt subsequently. You may be communicating in English to a person who does not know English or who has learnt it as a second language and this could have the consequence of messages being misinterpreted. There are a number of things that can be done to compensate for language barriers:
- Be aware of communication difficulties that the other person may have and be prepared to compensate for them
- Information that the person needs to know could be provided in written format in the person’s native language. In the form of signs, brochures etc. These can be multilingual
- Body language and non verbal cues – Understand what they mean and use them appropriately
- Utilize the abilities of team members who can speak other languages. Ask them to assist with communication
- Tools like word and picture dictionaries
- Interpreter services
- Demonstration of activities etc.
Fundamental to the provision of care and the health of the care team are the care relationships and the relationships that exist between team members. Establishing healthy rapport between you and the care recipient or team member will assist the process of building trust and confidence. Rapport can be established and developed by:
- Being present with the other person and making yourself available to them
- Practicing good interpersonal listening skills by –
- Tracking the other person’s agenda
- Listening to both the content of what is said and the emotion expressed
- Engaging both open and closed questioning
- Engaging non-committal responses
- Inviting them to say more
- Engaging paraphrasing
- Engaging reflective questioning
- Validating and affirming the other person for their experience and beliefs
- Demonstrating a respectful non-judgmental attitude towards the other person
- Respecting the other person’s personal space
- Encouraging the other person by both verbal and non-verbal responses
- Compensating for “blockers to communication” (particularly cultural blockers)
- Practicing good intrapersonal listening skills by-
- Being aware of our own thinking and emotions when communicating with persons from other cultures
- Practicing appropriate self-disclosure
Being proactive in the area of cultural understanding and acceptance will contribute to the healthy development of workplace and professional relationships. By drawing attention to the value that cultural difference can bring to the team’s capability, one may motivate other team members to become culturally aware and to engage with strategies that will enhance understanding and communication across cultures. When the strategies to minimise bias and discrimination outlined in the previous section are engaged, the potential for the healthy development of workplace and professional relationships will be significantly increased.
Within the context of child care, there is the potential for people to demonstrate bias and discrimination towards children/parents and team members who are from differing cultural backgrounds. To show bias means to show unfair favour towards another person. Cultural discrimination is observable adverse behaviour directed at an individual from another cultural group. There are a number of reasons for the practice of cultural bias and discrimination. For example the person displaying the bias and discrimination may:
- Not have a good understanding of the culture because they have not interacted with people from that culture previously or researched the culture in any detail.
- Practice stereotypical thinking and conclude that all people from a particular culture are the same. Thinking of this nature does not allow for individual uniqueness.
- Be racist and believe that people from other cultures are in some way inferior to his/her own.
- Be anxious when exposed to culturally specific behaviours and not know how to respond to those behaviours.
- Have heard through the media or other sources that the values, beliefs and agendas of the other culture are harmful to others.
- Not understand how difficult it is for persons from another culture to communicate and assume that they understand English well.
Some examples of bias and discriminatory behaviours are:
- People are excluded from activities, conversations etc. because of their cultural difference.
- Cultural views regarding gender issues are not understood or respected.
- Making jokes about other people and their culture and/or the use of degrading language when talking about them.
- Cultural specific needs of the other person are not understood, acknowledged or respected (e.g. dietary and dress needs).
- Religious needs of the other person are not respected and accommodated.
It is your responsibility as a care provider/care team member to be proactive with strategies that focus on minimizing bias and discrimination. These strategies may include:
- Being aware of your own cultural values and beliefs and interacting with others in a way that does not impose these values and beliefs upon them.
- Taking the time to research other cultures and then make your findings (or the places where the information can be found) available to other carers/care team members.
- Taking time to understand anti discrimination policies, procedures and legislation and where possible, contributing to the ongoing improvement/development of these.
- Contribute to the development of a care environment that:
- Is welcoming and friendly
- Practices good cross cultural communication strategies
- Is respectful of all people and celebrates the value/benefits of harnessing diversity
- Welcomes the input of care recipients and team members of other cultures regarding cultural issues
- Accommodates the cultural specific needs of care recipients/care team members
- Contribute/encourage the development of cross-cultural care teams
- Make sure that cross-cultural representation is provided on committees.
- Be vigilant for literature, posters, DVDs etc. that are culturally insensitive and take steps to remove them from the care environment.
Communicating with a person from a different cultural background can have its challenges. Communication can be verbal or written, or it can involve using signs and posters or the process of signing. The sign language that is used in the Australian deaf community is called Auslan (Australian Sign Language). When we verbally communicate with another person, the process is not just about what we say, but what we do also. Our body language including our facial expressions and tone and pitch of voice convey very strong messages. It has been said that communication is:
- 55% body language (including facial expressions and hand gestures)
- 38% tone and pitch of voice
- 7% words used
When communicating in a cultural diverse context it is especially important to understand the dynamics of the communication process so as to minimize the potential of communication breakdown. As well as process, the attitude of the communicator also contributes to the success of the communicative encounter. For example racist attitudes (the belief that one particular race of people is not as good as another race of people) or attitudes of prejudice (making judgments about the other person or their situation or heritage without appropriate knowledge) both demonstrate disrespect towards the other person and have the potential to significantly undermine the effectiveness of communication
It is important then to:
- Accept that differences do exist between people and that as the carer/team member, you have a responsibility to do your best to understand the different cultures that you may encounter in the conduct of your care activity.
- Accept that people have the right to be different and to be treated with equality, courtesy and respect regardless of their backgrounds.
Take time to develop your intrapersonal awareness (understanding of how you think and feel) as it relates to working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Monitoring and managing our own intrapersonal journey is very important when establishing and maintaining care/team relationships and practicing effective communication.
Some general communication techniques that assist with respectful, effective communication are:
- Speak slowly and pronounce words clearly. If the other person is finding it hard to understand what you are saying, repeat yourself or say it a different way.
- Use simple words and if appropriate/needed access aids like picture dictionaries.
- Allow plenty of time for communication
- Frequently reflect to the other person what you are hearing to make sure you understand. Paraphrasing and reflective questioning can be very helpful here. Do your best to reflect not only the content of the message but also the emotion that is contained in it as well.
- Be aware of your body language, facial expressions and the tone and pitch of your voice. Make sure these are not communicating the wrong message to the care recipient or team member.
- Use an interpreter
- Learn some key words from the other person’s language
For work practices to continue to be relevant and of the highest standard, they need to be reviewed regularly and modified where appropriate. Review and modification may apply to:
- Policy changes
- Changes to childrens plans
- Changes to team practices and the relationships between team members
It can be very helpful to consult with persons from relevant cultural backgrounds when conducting reviews and making changes. Consultation is not simply a process of giving information to others. Rather it is a two way process whereby information is exchanged and considered from both sides. As well as being used to exchange information, consultation is also a very powerful tool for assessing needs and for reviewing, adjusting and evaluating how appropriate current practices are. It needs to be specific in regards to the topics being considered otherwise it will be likely to provide too much information.
While some cultural groups use consultation as a way to include all of the group members in decision making, not all do. Some cultural groups respect the opinion of an authority figure over that of its members. Other groups look to the leaders of the community (e.g. Elders) who are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the whole community. When planning consultation it is important to be aware of what type of consultation process is most relevant to the identified cultural groups. Failure to do this may significantly undermine the intended outcomes of consultation.
There are a number of people with whom we may choose to consult:
a) Family members: These persons often know the child/team member well and can provide very specific cultural information. They can be easily accessible and provide very timely assistance. It is important to remember however that family members, due to their emotional connection to the child/team member, may find it difficult at times to be objective. Consequently, they may be influenced by agendas of their own and if they have a limited understanding of your care area, may not understand you care agenda.
b) Other persons within the care team who are bi-cultural/bi-lingual: These people can be easily accessible, often have professional training and may have good experience in the care area. The use of these people in this context however may be restricted by other work commitments and influenced by confidentiality issues and the person’s ability to be objective.
c) Multicultural Organisations
d) Ethno-specific support services
Every person has the right to feel safe. The environment in which a person exists can either contribute to a person’s sense of safety and wellbeing or can threaten it. Environments that are culturally and psychologically safe are environments that allow for and accommodate the cultural differences that exist in them. The response of employees to the cultural and psychological needs of children, parents and co-workers is a major contributor to the nature of the environment.
The child, parent or co-worker from another cultural background may have experienced or may be experiencing:
- The effects of war (e.g. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Cultural ridicule or abuse
- Anxiety and fear
- Loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness
- Confusion and disorientation
- Adjustment issues
- Inferiority and incompetence
- Anger and frustration
- Loss and grief
Some needs that contribute to feelings of safety and security are the need to:
- Have physical needs met (food, clothing, housing, hygiene etc.)
- Be treated with dignity
- Communicate with others in a way that helps the person to feel connected and validated and in a way that provides understanding about the person’s environment and how they function within it.
- Experience opportunities for growth
- Experience opportunities for social engagement particularly with people of a similar cultural background
- Feel free to engage with cultural rituals and feel able to do so
- Have privacy respected
- Have spiritual practices respected and spiritual needs met such that spiritual wellbeing is maximised
- Have personal space and opinions about touching respected
- Have access to appropriate professional services (counselling/medical)
- Have access to relevant information about processes presented in a way that they can understand
- Have the freedom to make choices and be involved in decision making processes regarding their education and wellbeing
As a team member, you can contribute to a safe and secure environment by:
- Taking the time to understand the cultural background of others
- Practicing sensitivity to the cultural needs of others
- Treating others with respect, equality and tolerance
- Establishing rapport with the other person
- Making regular assessments of people’s needs and how well they are being met
- Addressing communication issues
Due to the multicultural nature of Australian society, it is inevitable that educators will interact with both children, parents and co-workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds. This may mean dealing with peoples of diverse:
- Sexual preference
Multiculturalism is a very valuable resource in that it provides challenges to the way we think and act and provides the opportunity for people to practice innovation and resourcefulness . Multiculturalism also provides the opportunity for people to become more familiar and connected with the world that exists outside of the communities within which primarily interact. It is important then to not only understand the value of multiculturalism, but to harness that value in very practical ways. This process begins by proactively learning about other cultural backgrounds.
Being sensitive to the cultural needs of the other person may require that you change the way you think, communicate, and practice your people care skills. It is important to realize and accept that everyone is different – unique in their own ways. In fact, people from the same cultural background may think and act very differently. It is important then not to presume things about the other person or to stereotype them in any way! Culturally appropriate practices mean respecting the other person’s culture when carrying out the following:
a) Following the organizations’ rules and guidelines:
People care is offered in a variety of contexts. No matter where you practice your care activity, you will be required to adhere to the policies and procedures of the organisation within which you are placed. Policies and procedures are essential for the safety of the child, parents and other team members, and to ensure that care practices engaged are of an appropriate standard and are provided in a controlled manner.
All educators have a “duty of care” in their workplace. This means that you must provide the right care to the individual and in a way that keeps them safe. When a “plan” is in place the educator must familiarize themselves with the information in the plan. This will assist him/her to understand what the “right care” looks like for the child.
Sometimes policies and procedures may not fully allow for the cultural needs of the person in care and in this case they may need to be adjusted. Information that you as the educator provide to management about policy and procedure shortfalls can be very helpful with the ongoing process of improving your service.
b) Collecting and providing information
In order to understand the needs of the people connected to your workplace, whether young or old, assessments need to be made. An assessment regarding a person’s cultural needs is essential if the approach they are exposed to are respectful of their culture. This is also important if team members are to respect the diversity that each brings to the workplace, and if they are to function in a way that is not offensive to those of a differing cultural background. Collecting information from the person and their family members can be very helpful with this assessment process. Questions relating to the following can be very helpful when identifying cultural needs and obtaining this information can be done in either a formal or informal manner:
- Country of origin
- Religious practices
- Language spoken – English/other. Which is the primary and which is the secondary language?
- Food preferences
- Dress preferences
- Customs and rituals
- Recreational and social preferences
Introduction to this section – Cultural Diversity – Tips for communicating with cultural awareness
Communicating with a person from another culture can be challenging. Having good interpersonal listening and communication skills and being aware of the role that words, body language, hand and facial gestures, and tone and pitch of voice play in communication, may make it easier for you to communicate with a person of a different cultural background. It may be that the person you are caring for or working with does not speak or understand English very well. At these times you may be able to enhance the communication process by:
- Using pictures or signs
- Engaging an interpreter
- Learning some key words from their language
- Speaking clearly and concisely and avoiding the use of “slang” language
There may also be differences in communicative behaviours. For example in some cultures it is inappropriate to keep eye contact when communicating or to touch the other person. It is important to be aware of these differences so as to avoid offending the peron or culturally diverse team member.
ii. Providing assistance
Sometimes your role will require that you provide personal care assistance. The degree of assistance you will need to offer will depend on the care area that you are working in. For example, aged care workers are more likely to provide a higher level of assistance than a person caring for teenagers in a foster care environment. Having a good relationship with the care recipient and understanding how cultural preferences influence how care is offered is very important when providing direct care. For example many Muslim women find it difficult to receive care from males.
iii. Making physical contact
In some cultures, it is normal to touch people on the arm or shoulder when communicating, whereas in other cultures these gestures may be considered rude or cause the other person to feel threatened. It is always important to seek permission before touching the other person and to understand what is considered appropriate touch given the culture of the child, parent or team member.
iv. Contacting families and others
There may be times when you need to contact family members to obtain more information about the cultural needs of the other person. In some cultures it is normal for all family members to be involved in the making of decisions, whereas in others one member of the family is responsible. Cultural values must be respected in this regard.
v. Treating deceased persons
Every culture has its own beliefs and customs regarding care for people that have died. In order to treat the family and the deceased person with respect, you will need to know about these beliefs and customs. For example:
- Muslims require that same sex Muslim people handle the body. If a non-Muslim person handles the body, they must wear gloves.
- Jewish people prefer the body of the deceased to not be left unattended between the time of death and the burial.
vi. Providing food services
A person’s food preferences are also strongly influenced by culture. Offering the wrong food to a person can cause them to be upset. Some examples of food preferences are:
- Muslims or Jewish people do not usually eat pork
- Hindus do not usually eat cows
- Some people may not eat meat at all (vegetarian)
- Some people may use different implements for eating like chopsticks
- Some cultures require regular times of fasting (times when no food is eaten at all)
vii. Helping with clothes
The type of clothing that a person wears and the degree to which the clothing covers their body are both strongly influenced by cultural values. Many people prefer to wear traditional clothing or to observe the clothing customs from their culture in everyday life. Some examples are:
- Wearing Jewish Yarmulke (skullcap)
- Wearing of clothing that covers the head and face
- Wearing thongs
viii. Treating people with dignity and empathy.
Dignity is defined as “the state of being worthy of honour or respect”. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dignity) Empathy comes from the Greek word ‘empatheia’ which means to “feel into”. This means taking the time to understand the journey of the other person so that we may be able to feel with them. The idea of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” is very relevant here.
All people need and deserve to be shown empathy and treated with dignity no matter what their cultural background. You as the team member have a responsibility to show this.