Achieving cultural safety in Aboriginal health services: implementation of a crosscultural safety model in a hospital setting

Genuine cross-cultural competency in health requires the effective integration of traditional and contemporary knowledge and practices. This paper presents an analytical framework that aims to enhance the ability of patients/clients, providers, administrators and policy makers to make appropriate choices, and to find pathways to true healing while ensuring that the required care is competently, safely and successfully provided. The examples presented are primarily based on the experience of the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC), which serves a diverse, primarily Anishnabe population living in 32 northern Ontario communities spread over an area of 385 000 km2 of Canada. The SLMHC has a specific mandate, among Ontario hospitals, to provide a broad set of services that address the health and cultural needs of a largely First Nations population. We describe our journey to date to implement our comprehensive minoyawin model of care, including an evaluation of the initial outcomes. Minoyawin is an Anishnabe term that denotes health, wellness or well-being – a state of wholeness in the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical make-up of the person. The model focuses on cross-cultural integration in five key aspects of all of our services:   Odabidamageg (governance and leadership) Wiichi’iwewin (patient and client supports) . Andaw’iwewin (traditional healing practices) Mashkiki (traditional medicines) Miichim (traditional foods). The paper outlines a continuum of programme development and implementation that has allowed core elements of our programming to be effectively integrated into the fabric of all that we do. Outcomes to date and practices that are potentially transferable are identified.

Author(s): Roger Walker, Len Kelly, Helen Cromarty, Natalie St Pierre Hansen

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