The Department of Economic Security's Division of Developmental Disabilities promotes a culture of respect when working with members and their families. The Division values a competent and diverse workforce capable of effectively addressing the needs and preferences of culturally and linguistically diverse members. “Cultural competency” refers to the ability of staff to acknowledge and understand the influence cultural history, life experiences, language differences and values have on individuals and families. Cultural competency in healthcare refers to being aware of cultural differences among diverse racial, ethnic, and other minority groups respecting those differences and taking steps to apply that knowledge to professional practice. It is an awareness and appreciation of customs, values, and beliefs and the ability to incorporate them into the assessment, treatment, and interaction with any individual. Better communication with members, families, and groups from diverse cultures improves health outcomes and member satisfaction.
Cultural competency includes having knowledge of and using “disability etiquette” when establishing rapport and working with individuals with developmental disabilities. According to the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University, “People first terminology is the standard that should govern all communication about this population (people with disabilities). Training and policy within health and mental health care organizations should require people first terminology such as individuals with developmental disabilities, a person with intellectual disabilities, and a patient with a physical disability or communication disorder.”
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Minority Health issued the National Culturally Linguistically Appropriate Service (CLAS) Standards in December of 2000 to ensure that all people entering the health system receive equitable, effective treatment in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. The Division strives to meet the 14 CLAS Standards.
The Division’s Cultural Competency Plan strives to integrate care by providing a holistic service delivery system that is consistently respectful of individual and families values, thinking, belief systems, life experiences, and linguistic preferences. The plan encompasses the entire network of services provided by the Division, including:
- Acute Care Services
- Behavioral Health Services
- Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
- Other Specialty Services