Practical steps

There are several practical steps you can take to when working on health and social care issues. They include:

  • Health and social care professionals need to be aware of making assumptions and stereotyping. Interpreters, advocates and workers’ different cultural backgrounds can assist with details of particular health and social care needs and culture.
  • Don’t assume that individuals follow social norms of a particular culture or religion – consult with people about their own needs and wishes and be flexible with support provision.
  • If possible offer a choice of workers and trained interpreters, as some families may not wish to be seen by someone of the opposite gender or someone from a different cultural or tribal background to their own.
  • People from some cultural backgrounds may perceive mental illness to carry substantial stigma particularly if it is perceived as spirit possession or divine punishment. The organisation Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) provides training and information regarding African children and families and cultural perceptions of spirit possession, branding, witchcraft and more. 
  • Train interpreters about the needs of asylum seeking families and the cultural perceptions of health and social care support.
  • Take particular care over assessments and entitlements, especially when working with new arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers. 

These steps also appear in the Cultural competence section of The Children’s Society’s Refugee Toolkit

Avoiding assumptions

Principles at the heart of good practice include:

  • Avoid making assumptions because of someone’s culture or background
  • Ensure open consultation with family members
  • Adopt a whole family approach and take special care to take into account any particular needs and requirements that arise. For example, consider people’s foods, festivals, understanding of illness or disability and their expectations 


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