Om Teaching Transcultural Care
Perhaps I should begin by saying that I am not, in terms of ethnic origin, English. My parents emigrated to England from the Irish Republic, and we have all lived in Britain for so long that no one can see the join - or can they? Some years ago, my mother was admitted to hospital for a routine operation. Award nurse saw her obviously foreign name on the admissions list, and concluded she must be Asian. Accordingly, she arranged for my mother to have a bed in the same bay as other Asian women, and ordered her a curry for lunch. Part of me was angry at the stereotypical thinking rhat every- one with a strange name must be Asian, but I had to concede that I myself knew little about other cultures. My own patients came from a variety of cultural traditions, but neither I nor my colleagues knew very much about them. What information we had was culled directly from patients and their families in a haphazard 'do this' or 'don't do that' basis. Because we had no understanding of the traditions, staff could become exasperated over what they interpreted as 'awkwardness'. Our inadequacies were further highlighted when patients did not speak English: there was always the question of who could translate for them, and whether they fully understood their illnesses and their treat- ments. For some, the experience of being in hospital must have been frightening.