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Person-Centered Care is Personal: Why Practicing Cultural Humility is Integral to Comprehensive Care

Categories: ACBIS Insider

By Zenobia Mehta, MA, CCC-SLP, CCM, CBIST

The term “patient centric” has been around for years, but what does it really mean for a person’s recovery post brain injury? What do we mean by “person-centered” and this notion of individualizing treatment plans? The answer lies in the dignity and independence of culturally appropriate care settings and clinical pathways.

Within the Essential Brain Injury Guide, published by the Brain Injury Association of America and the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists, cultural competency is listed as one of the foundational philosophies of rehabilitation treatment. It emphasizes the need for clinicians to not only understand cultural differences, but also to fully integrate neurorehabilitation plans with the Biopsychosocial Model and Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model or R/CID. Additionally, the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines are also cited as it pertains to working with persons of varying ethnic backgrounds to provide culturally appropriate and more individualized treatment plans.

Specifically, the Essential Brain Injury Guide asks clinicians and other medical professionals “[w]hat cultural experiences has each person … had in life and how has this affected them?” This drives at the fact that every person is different and thus has varying biopsychosocial features which require individualized and culturally diverse neurorehabilitation settings. This includes genetic, cognitive, social, and cultural considerations for each patient and their family. Motivationally speaking, a good understanding of and sensitivity to a person’s culture can drive understanding, adherence, and adoption of neurorehabilitation treatment plans as well. Effectively, this means that a person’s dignity is at the forefront of their medical care.

Anecdotally speaking, patients are able to recover more fully when culture is respected and considered because their personhood is centric to their care. Victoria Katomski, Director of Rehabilitation for the Centre for Neuro Skills in Los Angeles says that “[k]eeping patient’s specific needs at the forefront of their therapeutic goals helps them imagine their life post injury. Whether it’s returning to family life, religious observances, or simply cooking a favorite recipe, rehabilitation settings work best when patients feel considered and empowered by the process.” In her experience, she has seen patients excel when they are given the opportunity to engage with their communities in meaningful ways adding, “we strive as an organization to celebrate alongside our patients whether its birthdays, holidays, or family milestones, letting them know we stand behind them 100%.”

The most meaningful recovery happens by paying careful attention to the individual needs of each patient and family. The distinct culture they carry is an enormous factor in their overall recovery. Considered attention and respect for someone’s culture supports their dignity and independence through neurorehabilitation and ensures it, post injury.


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