WORKING WITH HISPANIC/LATINO COMMUNITIES
Hispanics/Latinos continue to be in a state of emergency and, as a community, are highly vulnerable when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. When working with Hispanic/Latino communities, it is important to keep in mind the linguistic, cultural, and religious diversity that exists among Hispanic/Latino groups. One must be aware of these differences in order to improve health service outcomes while decreasing the rate of HIV/AIDS within the community. Without taking these differences into account, without being culturally competent and sensitive, organizations and their interventions will be less effective in reaching the intended population.
Cultural competency allows health care facilities, CBO’s, coalition members, and NLAAD partners to positively affect the health of Hispanics/Latinos. Additionally, it is important not just to be aware of these cultural differences, but when delivering services, to respect them and to effectively use this knowledge in order to increase program collaboration and service integration.
- Language barriers often account for infrequent visits to health care facilities and lower satisfaction rates among Hispanics/Latinos.
- Organizations should look to employ Spanish-speaking staff in order to facilitate service delivery to Hispanic/Latino communities.
- If there is no one at the organization who speaks Spanish, provide an interpreter for services.
- Organizations can look to community based organizations, health centers, hospitals, clinics, or universities to assist in providing translation services.
Immersion into the Hispanic/Latino culture
- By immersing oneself in a culture, it increases cultural awareness, allows for individuals to develop skills, additional cultural sensitivities and verbal skills; allowing for the integration of health care practices.
- Respect is very important in Hispanic/Latino communities. If a patient feels they have been disrespected, they may not return. Do not confuse formality as a sign of distance or lack of understanding.
- Share information gained through immersion into the Hispanic/Latino community with your organization and colleagues.
- If there is no Hispanic/Latino staff at your organization, train your staff to work with interpreters.
Use of Community Leaders
- Gaining access to the Hispanic/Latino community is vital and through your work with a community leader you will have access to all the inner workings of that community.
- Community members tend to trust individuals who are an integral part of the community, that share common language capabilities, cultural values and a common heritage.
Culturally Competent Health Promotion
- Messages on promotional materials should be simple, concise and bilingual
- Consider immigrant populations that may be monolingual and may have low literacy rates, therefore simple language (about at a 6th grade level) and pictures may be more effective.
Inclusion of Community/Family Members
- Families play a center role in decision-making.
- It may be crucial to involve family members and community leaders when taking action involving health care.
- Prevention models should consider influences of social environments.
- Listen to the community and what they identify as their priority needs. Do not walk in with a pre-set, rigid agenda.
- Organizations must take into account working days/hours, physical environment, written materials, location, and access to health care facilities.
- Clients may not be able to visit health care facilities due to work days/hours, distance, transportation restrictions, understanding on where and how to access the facility, and may refuse to visit due to the atmosphere of the facility.
- Even small adjustments in the office environment such as décor could have positive effects on patient outcomes.
- Take the time to explain in detail all insurance and payment methods for treatment and doctor visits.
Patience with Clients
- Listen to your clients and give them ample time to digest information and ask questions.
- Establish trust with clients: Sit with them to make sure they have understood, make yourself available to answer any questions after they have left your office, be sure to respond in a timely manner, be honest, and be sure to follow up with them.