Frank McCarthy's Blog, Visiting Angels, Kilmarnock, VA

Cultural Awareness When Caregiving

As we go about our lives, it is easy to have tunnel vision.  We experience our family, our schools, our religion, and our language. As a result, we may not have an understanding of cultures that fall outside our own. In the interconnected world of today, it is essential to recognize that a vast number of cultures exist within our local communities and the bigger picture of the United States of America. When caregiving for others,  we must have the awareness that others may have traditions, beliefs, and experiences that are different than our own. Caregiver interviewing elderly couple


Some estimates state there are 4,200 religions in the world. The Pew Research Center has broken down each faith and what countries practice each religion. Given that the USA is the ultimate melting pot, it is inevitable that we will encounter clients and their family members with a different religion than our own. It is important to familiarize ourselves with these differences as a good faith effort to ensure there is no inadvertent breach of religious etiquette when caregiving for clients.  A religious protocol may have specific requirements within the following domains:

  • Food choices and preparation
  • Hygiene
  • Attire
  • Prayer schedule
  • Religious holidays

Clients and their families place their trust in us to enter their homes and care for their loved ones. Respect for clients' religious beliefs and practices is key to successful caregiving.

Race and Ethnicity

The US Census provides a helpful distinction for the difference between race and ethnicity. Race is usually presented among the seven options of Black or African American, White, American Indian, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, or Other Pacific Islander. According to the US Census, "Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic origin or not." There is debate about whether Hispanic is considered ethnicity or race because some Hispanic people consider this their race. This debate is further proof that people may identify in different ways.  Therefore, having an open mind when caregiving for people of all races and ethnicities is a vital part of the job description.

Sexual Orientation

Unlike the color of our skin, sexual orientation is not readily apparent at first glance. According to a Gallup poll, at least 4.5% of the population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Therefore, when starting caregiver services with a new client, it is best to enter into the services with an open mind and not make assumptions. The most common example of caregivers and other staff making assumptions is when they are conversing with a female client and ask questions, such as: "So how long were you married to your husband?  What did your husband do for a living?" The following phrasing may be more culturally appropriate: "So how long were you married to your spouse?" What did your spouse do for a living?"

As we interact with clients within the caregiver capacity and beyond, cultural awareness plays a crucial role in ensuring that we take a holistic view when caring for others. Not only are we present to prevent a fall, cook a meal, or run errands, but ensure that all social interaction is sensitive and inclusive for all.

At Visiting Angels Kilmarnock, we respect every client and the cultural ways and traditions that are important to them. If you or someone you know may benefit from a Visiting Angels Kilmarnock home care provider, please call 804-259-0193 or contact us to learn more.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.