Department of Health

Improving cultural responsiveness in Victorian hospitals

  • 17 October 2017
  • Duration: 4:40
  • NATHAN: I'm a research and evaluation consultant with Social Compass and we are working on the improvement of cultural responsiveness in public hospitals evaluation for DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) at the moment. Cultural responsiveness is essentially the actions that are taken to improve the environment and the service and cultural safety is more about the experience of the consumer.. of the Aboriginal communities.

    CRAIG: Here at Northern Health all the executive team are fully committed to having a presence of Aboriginal culture. We're actively.. we have a consumer network group that are constantly recruiting and looking for more Aboriginal support. Organisationally we have integrated Aboriginal culture into most of our standards committees and also we have included them, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population more into our internal feedback process. We also, as a facility have implemented a couple of facility improvements. One is our culturally sensitive birthing centre that has a lot of Aboriginal art and artefacts. We also try to address the staff on the very first day in orientation.. we have a program about Aboriginal cultural awareness.

    NATHAN: You have to actually acknowledge Aboriginal expertise as a key criteria to sign off whether something is or is not culturally safe. So these little items like the environmental stuff and having progressive leadership and being allowed to be experts will actually lead to genuine participation. The closest thing we have is the AHLOs (Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officers) and they are probably the saving grace of Aboriginal health in public hospitals, being that they are the expert. They're not only the liaison they're the genuine conduit between mainstream and grassroots.

    DONNA: Aboriginal liaison officers, you know like they do that bit extra and really look out for families and basically hold your hand from the time you get here to the time you leave. Even afterwards, you know, giving you a call and checking in and seeing how you are.

    KAREN: The data won't tell you anything if the hospital's not asking the question. When I say that asking the question about our people's identity so 'are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent, or both?'. Connecting Aboriginal people back into the community, whether it's about a GP, or primary health care, or aged care services, national disability support services. So even follow up around people's appointments, encouraging people back 'don't forget in six weeks you've got that angiogram, come back!'.

    NATHAN: This job just doesn't stop. You know, being an Aboriginal person working in Aboriginal community in any level, you are permanently 24/7.. switched on!

    KAREN: Our hospital provides a good support team. We have a supportive manager who provides supervision. We have great team members who we all at different times help each other out. So cultural supervision is.. I think it's mandatory for every ALO across Victorian hospitals.

    DONNA: It's not just about, you know, yes there's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.. somewhere where you can go and have some space with your family, your extended family, especially for Aboriginal families. My granddaughter was just delivered here at the Northern hospital at one o'clock this morning, so pretty special moment. The team were fantastic with her delivery, but having the Koori maternity service too.. just amazing people in the ICU team and general staff but I think, you know again, here's our Aboriginal liaison officer who are here with us. You know, having that Aboriginal support is really really important.

Northern Health was one of seven case studies included in an evaluation of cultural responsiveness in Victorian hospitals. The video provides practice examples of how the hospital works to improve its cultural responsiveness to ensure the cultural safety of its Aboriginal patients and their families.

Reviewed 17 October 2017


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