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Canadian Public Health Association

Do you ensure programs and services are culturally relevant and culturally safe?

  • A Core Competency in the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections (STBBIs)

Steve is the team leader of an inner-city needle exchange program. The program's clients are mostly street-involved youth, sex industry workers and First Nations men. The team has recently begun doing outreach to Inuit and Métis communities and to recent immigrants from Asia, Africa and South America. As the program becomes increasingly busy, Steve isn't sure the program can provide culturally safe care to such a diverse clientele.

Do you work in the area of sexual health or STBBI program and policy development? Do you ensure that your programs and services are not only culturally relevant but also culturally safe for populations most at risk of infection?

Use the questions below to help you self-assess your knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices related to cultural relevance and safety. Remember that depending on your role, you may require different levels of proficiency for the various core competencies and it is possible that some of the competencies are not relevant to your work.

  1. What is "cultural safety" and "cultural competency" in relation to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples?
  2. Do you recognize how your own values, attitudes and beliefs can impact your work in STBBI prevention with culturally diverse populations?
  3. How can you increase your agency's cultural relevance to its clients?
  4. How can immigrant and minority status interact with homophobia, racism and sexism to create barriers to service access and use? How can organizations reduce these barriers?
  5. Are you familiar with methods for evaluating cultural competency in staff, as well as potential job candidates? Do your staff members have access to appropriate orientation, as well as continuous support and training to enhance their knowledge and skills in this area?
  6. When you design a new program, how can you increase its effectiveness for the priority cultural groups you want to reach?

Suggested resources:

This is one of a series of cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention. View all 26 cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention.

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