How to Build Cultural Competencies into your Older Adult Programming It is important for organizations who work with immigrant older adults to be culturally competent. This is a set of attitudes, behaviours and skills that enable you to work successfully in a cross-cultural setting. It is more than just being aware of differences. It implies valuing and adapting to diversity. Being aware of your own identity and cultural biases and being able to manage the dynamics of working with diverse groups. A culturally competent organization brings together knowledge about different groups of people — and transforms it into standards, policies, and practices. Here’s some active steps to guide you in this process… Do a comprehensive cultural competence assessment of your organization. Use the results to develop a long-term plan with measurable goals and objectives to incorporate culturally competent principles policies structures and practices. Include cultural competency requirements in job descriptions. Cultural competency requirements should be apparent from the very beginning of the hiring process. Ensure the people working and volunteering are reflective of the population groups you are working with. Get your staff involved in discussion and activities about cultural competence. Consider holding cultural competence training sessions. Make sure the location is accessible and respectful of difference, especially when planning and implementing programs and services. Be considerate of religious holidays and traditions, including cultural religious fasting and various dietary restrictions. And always remember to consider the need for accommodated spaces for prayer. There are many ways that organizations can do this work… Ask others to work with you to develop your organization’s cultural competence. Review other organizations best practices and consult with faith leaders, and of course community members from the population groups you serve. Ensure the assessment, screening and intake forms used takes culture into consideration. That way you can plan and prepare accordingly. Understand how history for some may cause tension and cultural divides with other groups. Create group guidelines and program specific activities to foster understanding, respect and diversity. Arrange for translators and ensure materials are produced in languages reflective of the populations you are serving. Working towards cultural competence is an ongoing process, one that requires commitment from individuals at all levels to ensure the creation and maintenance of an inclusive environment.