Care that is culturally appropriate

The background, culture, faith or sexuality of the person you care for may be different from your own. These factors may influence how they want to be cared for.

You'll need to consider these factors if you want to share a home with the person you care for, particularly if they are to live in a care home or be looked after by care workers. The care home or home care staff should be aware of the person's needs.

If the person you care for has a different culture or faith from yours, you'll need to consider how they worship or pray, their personal routine and the importance of objects or symbols to them. If you're unfamiliar with their customs, traditions, rituals or needs, it may be useful to do some research.

In some cultures, caring is traditionally kept in the family or between close family friends. While this should be respected, it’s important that people know what help is available to them. Local social services and carers' groups can help and offer advice.

If the person you care for has a different background from your own, it's important not to impose your views on them, as this could create tension and conflict.

Worship and prayer

The religion of the person you look after may require them to worship in a particular way. They may need:

  • a particular time to pray
  • a particular space for prayer (for example, Muslims must pray facing Mecca)
  • suitable clothing and any religious objects or symbols, such as a holy book or head covering

Religious objects or symbols

Each faith has its own symbols or objects, such as the Sikh turban, Jewish skull cap or Catholic rosary beads. These should be treated with respect and not removed without consent.

Washing facilities may also be required as Muslims may want to wash in running water before praying.

Hair care

Hair care is an important part of many cultural groups and faiths. For example, Jewish women may want to wear a wig, and some Sikh men may wear their hair coiled and wrapped under a turban.

Privacy and appearance

If you or the person you care for are part of a particular religion, tell anyone who helps out with caring (such as a professional care worker) so they can dress appropriately when visiting your home. Let them know if they need to cover parts of their body or head with a veil, or wear salwar kameez/kurta pyjama (tunic and trousers, worn with a scarf for women), a kippah/yarmulkah or hat.

Meals

Mealtimes are important in most religions or cultures. You may already be aware of the strict preparation of foods under Islamic halal or Jewish kosher rules. Catholics usually don't eat meat on Fridays.

The person you care for may also have important cultural food preferences, such as vegetarianism or veganism.

Language

You may care for someone who speaks a different language from you or uses sign language. While you may be able to learn a new language over time, try to ensure they have someone who can communicate fluently with them so that they know what is happening and can have a say in their own care.

Tell social services about the language needs of the person you care for, so they can provide someone to translate or communicate in sign language. If the person lives in residential care, check that information is available in their language.

Leisure

People usually want contact with others from their own cultural or religious groups, and being ill or having a disability shouldn't stop this. Having access to local, cultural or religious communities, cultural events, newspapers, radio and TV channels can give people a sense of identity and help them feel part of the wider community. Ask the person you care for if they would like to get involved in their community  for example, attending religious services.

Sexuality

The person you care may want to be involved with a community related to their sexuality. Find out if there are lesbian, gay or bisexual groups in your area, if they are of interest to them.

As with religious or cultural beliefs, it's important not to make assumptions about someone’s sexual preferences.

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