UBC researchers have partnered with members of local healthcare organizations on a research initiative that aims to strengthen cultural safety and effect organizational change for aboriginal healthcare in the Okanagan Valley.
Principal investigators in the project, which is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, include UBC researchers Lawrence Berg, Rachelle Hole, Mike Evans and Joan Bottorff.
“When we say cultural safety, it really means having an awareness of your own cultural realities and attitudes and being open-minded and flexible in your attitude toward people from other cultures,” says Rachelle Hole, assistant professor of Social Work.
“Cultural safety involves re-orienting the training of health professionals, incorporating ethnic sensitivity, and actively seeking critical understanding of colonial structures, racism and their impact on contemporary Indigenous populations.”
The research team includes representatives from the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Interior Health (IH), First Nations Friendship Centre, Métis Community Services of British Columbia and Eastern Institute of Technology Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Specific goals for the three-year project include:
- collaborating with local Aboriginal groups, community service providers and Interior Health to assess current practices for cultural safety, both on a system-wide basis and in two specific hospital units;
- collaborating with local Aboriginal groups, community service providers and Interior Health to develop cultural safety programs fostering new practices in these two hospital units;
- re-assessing the efficacy of these innovations in improving health outcomes for urban Aboriginal people in the valley; and,
- refining these cultural safety programs, and developing a model of best practices for dissemination to other healthcare settings and Aboriginal communities in Canada.
One of the first community partners to engage in the initiative is Vernon Jubilee hospital.
“Our maternal child and medical units welcome the opportunity to participate in this research initiative with the UBC Okanagan research team,” says Yolanda Short, IH Maternal Child Manager.
“We are excited to experience research in action in our clinical settings,” adds Sandra Tully, Medical Manager for IH. “By increasing our awareness and sensitivity about cultural safety we will respectfully enhance our current care practices for our Indigenous patients and their family members.”
For more information about this project, contact Michelle Smith, Project Coordinator at 250-807-8771 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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