• People from Spanish speaking countries may find US healthcare system intimidating
A key step towards gaining competency treating Hispanic-Americans is understanding that there is a broad understanding of insitutionalized medicine as well as traditional healing. The younger generations are more inclined to follow a doctor’s orders if they are in an American hospital but the older generations may not be so willing. Many people from Spanish speaking countries who are new to the United States do not go to a hospital unless they become very sick because our health care system can be very intimidating. As a healthcare provider, it is important to understand this in order to better treat someone. Being kind and offering a smile can go a long way in providing treatment to an individual who is probably nervous and scared being there.
• Health care providers should be warm and kind
Hispanic-Americans expect their health care providers to be warm friendly, and interested in their lives. They respond better to doctors, nurses or therapists if you are engaging. They find it reassuring if the provider makes eye contact and also by making physical contact such as a warm hand on the shoulder or another comforting gesture.
• Translator is beneficial
It is also very beneficial to have a translator when available in order to accurately relay the information to the patient. It is helpful when the translator sits next to you while both of you face the patient, this allows the patient to see hand gestures and discern facial expressions. Also, make sure to have paperwork translated in Spanish available to them, and if they are unable to read, have a translator read it to them.
•Explain to patient how treatment is going to make them better
Based on the 2 Salvadoran people we interviewed, they mentioned that they may not be comfortable having an occupational therapist helping with with intimate activites such as dressing and toileting but if we explained to them how to do it, rather than just showing them, that they would be actively involved.
• Important to include family in the treatment process
Salvadoran people have strong ties to their family. If a Salvadoran person is admitted into the hospital, they will feel reassured and more comfortable if their immediate family and relatives are present.