Each year, staff at Health Quality Ontario read the Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) submitted by Ontario hospitals, primary care organizations, long-term care homes, and local health integration networks (which administer home care). We identified some stand-out examples from the 2017/18 QIPs showcasing what some organizations have done to address health equity in the populations they serve, and reached out to the people involved to find out more about their experiences.
We spoke with Elisabeth Piccinin RN BScN MHSc CHE, Administrator at Parkwood Mennonite Home, to find out more detail about some of the initiatives that this home described in their 2017/18 QIP.
From right to left: JoAnn Guerrero, Director of Care; Ann Jose, RAI Coordinator/Assistant Director of Care; and Joanne Gentile, Administrative Assistant at Parkwood Mennonite Home
Could you tell us a little bit about the work you are doing to support communication with your residents as described in your QIP?
To begin with, all staff participate in mandatory cultural competency and diversity training. Our home demonstrates commitment to understanding and accepting diversity by holding this training on the first day of their employment. Another key component is the diversity seen and valued in the staff we hire.
Our home also actively works to support culturally relevant communication with our residents. On admission, we complete a social profile with the resident and family to inform care planning. This profile identifies the residents’ first language and current language. Many residents enjoy conversing in their primary language, despite being able to speak English. For some, cognitive issues associated with aging may impact residents’ ability to be fluent in multiple languages. In the elderly, reverting to one’s primary language may be an indicator of cognitive decline or dementia.
Our home is building a library of “communication cards”, which interpret 37 different languages with pictures and written words to prompt discussion and help clarify resident’s needs. The cards are downloaded at the home, printed and laminated for individual resident needs.
The Communication Cards are available free online through the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing.
The communication cards cover the following topics:
- Mobility aids
- Medical/health specialists
- Personal care
Staff at the home are using these cards with various residents. So far they have used the German, French, Japanese and Portuguese cards.
In addition to helping residents communicate basic needs and wants, some residents enjoy the activity of teaching the staff their primary language. It gives residents the opportunity to reminisce about earlier times in their lives.
Another tool that the Parkwood Mennonite Home uses is the L’Accueil francophone de Thunder Bay’s Interpretation Guide for Health Care Professionals English-French. The guide acknowledges language barriers as serious issues which become critical when individuals experience decreased mental capacity due to illness or aging, and their ability to communicate in their second language becomes impaired. This guide includes a section specific to long-term care.
While Parkwood Mennonite Home has many staff members that are multilingual, these tools help support the staff in their ability to provide cultural competent, linguistically relevant communication.
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