Suzanne Salimbene is a pioneer in the field of HealthCare diversity. For many years she has produced a newsletter called Culturally Competent Care, and in 1998 created the first and second HealthCare diversophy® training games. She has now distilled this wisdom into a tiny but comprehensive spiral bound volume that will slide comfortably into the lab coat of healthcare professionals on duty, and will have leave only a small footprint on the desks of clinic and hospital administrators.
Salimbene blends solid culture specific information about African Americans, American Indians, Asians, Hispanics, Middle Easterners and Emigrés from the former Soviet Bloc countries, with information about the dynamics that these individuals and their families are likely to encounter in using the US healthcare system. She describes cultural communication habits, healthcare expectations and decision-making, folk beliefs and remedies and the interpersonal dimensions that surround them both in the patients’ family and community and in the healthcare system. There is lots of useful, “What do do when…” in this slim book.
Chapter 1 of What Language Does Your Patient Hurt In? provides a particular bonus to its intended users, cultural general wisdom in the form of tip sheets for improving caregiver/patient relationships, for communicating with limited-English speaking patients, and improving compliance with healthcare treatment by integrating the patients’ beliefs and practices into the treatment plan. Far from being generalities, these tips provide specific lines of inquiry and action that are usable not only with the most common patient groups more fully described in the remaining pages, but with newcomers and immigrants of whatever background.
No one could cover all the cultural, familiar and personal dimensions of belief and expectations about healthcare on the part of its end users. However, a reading of this book and its on-the-spot consultation will go along way in helping the caregiver to leave his or her familiar assumptions and begin to listen and observe what the patient carries in terms of cultural needs and resources. It is a quick and effective way to try on the patient’s glasses and see health and illness from his or her perspective.
Many of today’s healthcare professionals are themselves of diverse and immigrant backgrounds. While this may provide them with special insight into their own cultural group’s health care lore, and perhaps be alert to similar differences in others, they are by no means absolved from attaining cultural competence in their work. What Language Does Your Patient Hurt In? can provide a text from which to conduct both formal and informal training and coaching as the healthcare industry itself struggles to generate and enforce national standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare services. Salimbene completes the training loop by producing an instructional video under the same name.