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Embracing Diversity in Senior Healthcare

Posted by Joe B. Nester on January 22, 2015 at 8:55 AM

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s (NHPCO) most recent report reveals serious gaps in the number of African American patients who were served by hospice compared with Caucasian patients served during the same year. The disparity in care was evident both in South Carolina and on a National level. In South Carolina only 14.2 percent of African Americans utilized hospice services compared to 57.5 percent of Caucasian patients.

There are other reports showing these disparities are not just associated with hospice but extend into the general care of the African American elderly population. The overall health of our elderly population in America is improving, but African American elders have significantly less access to care and are less likely to receive even routine medical care.


Embracing diversity and taking steps to close gaps in care should be the policy of every healthcare provider. Out-reach and education is the key to solving the problem. Companies should endeavor to reach people where they are and provide solutions where they are needed.


In addition to community out-reach, healthcare companies should seek to understand the cultural and ethnic differences of the minority population they are trying to serve. Understanding cultural differences is a prerequisite for changing minds and attitudes if traditions run counter to proposed solutions.


Agapé Senior expanded its out-reach in 2014 by hiring two fulltime African American Community Liaison teams dedicated to identifying needs within underserved African Americans. These specific teams of employees within Agapé include social workers, chaplains, medical experts and educators who can be called on to support out-reach efforts.


For the last 15 years Agapé Senior has been working diligently to improve senior care for South Carolinians. In 2015 that commitment extended to working with African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) leaders to coordinate education and improve access to healthcare resources in their congregations across the state.


Strength lies in our differences not our similarities.

 



Categories: Health and Wellness, Editor's Choice

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