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Developing Cultural Competencies in Spiritual Care. Presented by: Beth Lenegan, PhD David Scott, MS. Agenda. Introduction of Facilitators What is Cultural Competency? Why is Cultural Competency important in Spiritual Care? How Can Chaplains become Culturally Competent?

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Developing Cultural Competencies in Spiritual Care

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Developing CulturalCompetencies in Spiritual Care

Presented by:

Beth Lenegan, PhD

David Scott, MS


  • Introduction of Facilitators

  • What is Cultural Competency?

  • Why is Cultural Competency important in Spiritual Care?

  • How Can Chaplains become Culturally Competent?

  • What skills are required to be Culturally Competent

  • What resources are available


Beth Lenegan, PhD

Director, Pastoral Care Department

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

David Scott, MS

Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

What is Culture?

The learned or shared knowledge, beliefs, traditions, customs, rules, arts, history, folklore and institutions of a group of people used to interpret experiences and to generate social behavior.

Some Cultural Aspects

  • Communication/Language

  • Sense of Time

  • Relationships

  • Dress/Modesty

  • Food/Diet/Preparation of

  • Beliefs/Values/ Traditions

Culture may influence:

  • Health, healing, and wellness belief systems;

  • How illness, disease, and their causes are perceived;

  • The behaviors of patients/consumers who

  • are seeking health care and their attitudes

  • toward health care providers.

Culture defines how: - health care information is received;

  • how rights and protections are exercised;

  • what is considered to be a health problem;

  • how symptoms and concerns about the problem are expressed;

  • who should provide treatment for the problem; and

  • what type of treatment should be given.

What is Cultural Competency?

Cultural competence refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Having an

appreciation for diversity!

Cultural competence requires organizations and their personnel to do the following:

  • Value diversity

  • Assess themselves

  • Manage the dynamics of difference

  • Acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge

  • Adapt to diversity and cultural contexts of individuals and communities served.

Defining Diversity

The condition of being diverse: variety; especially the inclusion of diverse people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization


  • Define diversity in the broadest context to promote inclusion of all people. Eliminate the stigma that diversity applies to only “protected classes.”

    Dimensions of Diversity

  • GenderEducation

  • Religious beliefsPhysical and mental ability

  • RaceSexual orientation

  • Marital StatusOccupation

  • EthnicityLanguage

  • AgeGeographic location

  • IncomeVeteran status

Why Is Cultural Competency So Important?

Health care services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse patients can help bring about positive health outcomes.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations says that the professional who addresses the spiritual needs of patients in the healthcare environment should be Culturally Competent. 

How can Chaplains become Culturally Competent?

  • Assess the spiritual make-up of the community that surrounds your organization.

  • Educate yourself on the spiritual needs of the community.

  • Connect with spiritual leaders in your community to assist with providing services.

  • Make your community aware of the culturally appropriate services you offer.

Chaplain ResponsibilityStandards of Practice

  • Standard 7, Respect for Diversity

  • The Chaplain models and collaborates with the organization and its interdisciplinary team in respecting and providing culturally competent patient-centered care

What skills are required to be Culturally Competent?

Keeping An Open Mind

Is the foundation to Cultural


There Are Numerous Resources Available To Assist With Cultural Competence

Caring Across Cultures & Belief SystemsA Resource Guide for Health Care Professionals in an Interfaith World




Caring Across CulturesA Roadmap for Hospitals

  • Each hospital has a different roadmap for advancing effective communication, cultural competence and patient-and family-centered care.

  • Size, setting and resources will impact the implementation of A Roadmap….

  • The hospital handbook reflects your patient who reflects your community

Thank You!

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