Culture is a fundamental part of one’s being which along with spirituality play a significant role in a person’s journey through life. Health beliefs may be strongly tied to a person’s cultural background and spiritual or religious affiliation. Palliative care is the active holistic care of terminally ill patients which demands to maintain the quality of life addressing physical symptoms as well as emotional, spiritual and social needs. This very nature of the palliative care poses challenges to health care workers when addressing a culturally diverse population. Australia is the most multicultural country in the world where its population ranges from the descendants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to migrants or of descendants of migrants from more than 200 countries. The aim of this essay is to discuss the importance of providing spiritually and culturally competent care for a person and their family receiving palliation. This essay also discusses how importance is to focus these principles to the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with regards to death and dying.
World Health Organisation defines palliative care as “ an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing with life threatening illness through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual”(WHO,2009) . According to Matzo & Sherman (2010) the culture and spirituality are among the most important factors that structure human experience, values and illness patterns and determine how a person interact with the healthcare system. Moreover a person’s beliefs, values, rituals, and outward expressions can impact palliative care either positively or negatively. According to Brown & Edwards (2012) people experiencing the
inevitability of death are in need of care givers who are knowledgeable about personal issues and attitude that affect the end of life experience.
An adequate understanding of cultural and spiritual matters is vital and beneficial when focussing on dying person’s family needs and wants. According to Geoghan (2008) perception differ among culture in issues such as use of medication, personal space and touching, dietary issues, whether to be cared at home or seek health care facility. Long (2011) states that when determining the decision making and disclosures culture has a significant role to play with spiritual or religious implications. Brown & Edwards (2012) states that culturally expressions physical symptoms especially pain differs in different cultures and leads to ethnic minority groups are often being undertreated in terms of pain medication. Moreover, nonverbal cues such as grimaces, body positions and guarded movements also significance in providing culturally competent care.Ferrell &Coyle (2010) states language has an important role in streaming communication patterns and style between health providers and patients and lack of effective communication may mean less than satisfactory exchanges between health providers, patients and their families in a multicultural society.
According to Matzo & Sherman(2010) spirituality is a way to be connected with God as well as to self, fellow human beings and to nature. Moreover, when the terminally ill patients go through critical life adjustments, spirituality considered to be as a domain of palliative care which serves as the binding force for physical, social, and psychological domains of life. According to Ferrell &Coyle (2010) majority of the palliative patients may experience a
growth in spirituality and considers spirituality to be one of the most important contributors to quality of life and frequently used as helpful coping strategies for their physical illness. Furthermore, the family caregivers of seriously ill patients also find comfort and...
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