There has been a dramatic increase in the cultural diversity of the population in Ireland over the last 10-15 years. Ireland has transformed from a relatively homogeneous to multicultural society,that hosts 188 different nationalities (Central Statistics Office, 2008). At present circa 14% of the population is comprised of non-Irish nationals (Central Statistics Office, 2011). This unprecedented change in the Irish population has brought challenges to the Irish health services and professionals to provide effective care to people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Kelly, 2009; Tuohy et al., 2008). This essay will focus on cultural competence and cultural knowledge as a component of mental health nursing practice when caring for a diverse population.
Cultural awareness and cultural knowledge are considered to be the fundamental components of cultural competence (Campinha-Bacote, 2002; Popadopoulos, 2002).
Campinha-Bacote (2002, p.181) defines cultural competence as the ’process in which the health care provider continuously strives to achieve the ability to effectively work within the cultural context of the client (individual, family, community)’. Unlike clinical skills that are gained and then performed, cultural competence is viewed as a dynamic and continuous process in which nurses maintain an open mind and discover culturally appropriate practices and interventions through considering cultural and religious heritage, beliefs and behaviours of both clients and nurses (Giger and Davidhizar, 2002). As noted by Purnell (2002), culture has a powerful impact on clients’ interpretation of and response to health care.
The importance of cultural competence for mental health nursing practice is underpinned by A Vision for change (2006) and National Intercultural Health Strategy (2008).
Cultural awareness is defined as the self-examination of one’s cultural values and beliefs and...