Interim findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Safety have reported that Australian aged care services have not been meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse residents.
This lack of cultural awareness is surprising given the prevalence of diverse cultures in our aged care facilities. In 2016, more than one-third of Australians aged 65 and over were born outside of Australia and one-fifth in a non-English speaking country.
In Australian aged care facilities, with residents coming from vastly different cultural backgrounds with varied life experiences., a knowledge of and respect for an individual’s cultural background is crucial to being able to provide person-centred care.
Reports from the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia find that many people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds do not wish to go into a nursing home.
This is often due to the fact that language barriers can significantly reduce the experience of care in aged care facilities.
Older people with English as their second language report losing their ability to communicate in English as they age and experience cognitive decline, and so will often revert to their first language.
Part of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, St Basil’s NSW & ACT is a registered Australian charity established specifically for the provision of best quality aged care services within a culturally appropriate environment that enhances the dignity, independence and quality of life of all people in its care.
To achieve this St Basil’s NSW & ACT values multilingual and multicultural knowledge, skills and understanding and has developed expertise in providing aged care services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Recognising how fundamental culture is to our lives, St Basil’s NSW & ACT have been working on an innovative project in cooperation with Modern Greek Studies Program of Macquarie University offering Greek lessons for their non-Greek speaking staff.
These Greek lessons are held once a week at the St. Basil’s Lakemba location by Dr Patricia Koromvokis, Lecturer and Head of Modern Greek Studies at Macquarie University.
The Greek lessons are provided for free to the St Basil’s NSW & ACT staff members and fully sponsored by the Canterbury Leagues Club.
The programme provides staff with the opportunity to learn specific and essential linguistic terms of Greek language and culture and aims to improve the communication between carers and residents of St Basil’s NSW & ACT and to improve the lives of the residents.
Due to its resounding success so far, St Basil’s NSW & ACT are looking to expand the project to offer free Greek lessons at its remaining five facilities in addition to Lakemba including the Randwick, Miranda, Annandale, Kogarah and Kensington locations.