Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is a complex concept that may have different meanings for different audiences. Community Health Improvement Resources defines cultural competence as having the skills and abilities to respond respectfully and effectively to the priority population in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values diversity and equity. Therefore, cultural competence is more than just increasing awareness of or sensitivity to diverse groups and cultures.

familyCultural competence requires that organizations (National Center for Cultural Competence, NCCC):

    •  have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.
    •  have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve.
    •  incorporate the above in all aspects of policy making, administration, practice, service delivery and involve systematically consumers, key stakeholders and communities.

The NCCC describes cultural competence as a developmental process that evolves over time. To increase cultural competence, it is important to have a strong partnership with representation from diverse individuals and organizations (see Partnership) and a good understanding of the social determinants of health in your community.

If you and your partners identify the need to increase cultural competency, seek out local resources and opportunities for training and technical assistance available in your community.


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