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A new resource to support diverse communication challenges

The ‘Communicating safety and care in the context of linguistic and cultural diversity in aged care: an intercultural approach to training’ report was launched today by South Australian Minister for Ageing and Multicultural Affairs, Zoe Bettison.

cross-cultural communication can be a challenge for both aged-care workers and clients (image source: shutterstock)
cross-cultural communication can be a challenge for both aged-care workers and clients (image source: shutterstock)

Associate Professor Scarino says that while Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) is a “convenient label” for policies and guidelines, it may hinder understanding if communication is not recognised as intercultural and everyone’s responsibility.

“Understanding requires us to bridge our own language and culture in relation to the languages and cultures of others because being ‘at home’ in one’s own language and culture is a characteristic of all of us,” she says.

As many aged-care workers and residents come from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, communicating with clients who have complex behaviours or unmet needs, such as those associated with dementia, can be challenging.

“Of particular concern in contexts of linguistic and cultural diversity is understanding how to communicate care and safety around challenging behaviours so our project took an intercultural approach to the development and design of the resources,” Associate Professor Angela Scarino says.

Funded by a Safe Work SA Innovative Practice grant the University of South Australia’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures collaborated with Helping Hand and Southern Cross Care to create set of five professional learning modules.

In order to identify challenging areas and possibilities for communication, the project team “analysed documentation of incident reports and conducted focus group discussions with trainers, nurses and care workers,” according to Associate Professor Scarino.

The modules, which have been trialled in two industry sites, are designed for flexible delivery on or off line, and include videos in which nurses and care workers talk about how they communicate safety and care.

One trainer had “had never seen staff as connected with behaviour” and describes the resource as critical in reducing “triggers,” says Megan Corlis Director of Research and Development at Helping Hand.

Southern Cross Care Director of Workforce, Steve McCallum, found that the discussion and activities “fostered the development of a range of expertise.”  

The modules are available online, and designed to be relevant to workers at all levels of aged care organisations, from management to nurses.

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