Working with immigrant families raising a child with a disability: challenges and recommendations for healthcare and community service providers

Sally Lindsay, Gillian King, Anne F Klassen, Victoria Esses, Melissa Stachel
Disability and Rehabilitation 2012, 34 (23): 2007-17

PURPOSE: Although providing culturally sensitive care is an important element of family-centered rehabilitation very is little known about providers' experiences working with immigrant families in pediatric settings. The purpose of this study is to develop a better understanding of the experiences of service providers working with immigrant families raising a child with a physical disability.

METHOD: We draw on a qualitative approach involving in-depth interviews and focus groups with healthcare and community service providers (n = 13) in two multi-cultural Canadian cities.

RESULTS: The findings indicate that healthcare and community service providers encounter several challenges in providing care to immigrant families raising a child with a disability. Such challenges include the following: (1) lack of training in providing culturally sensitive care; (2) language and communication issues; (3) discrepancies in conceptualizations of disability between healthcare providers and immigrant parents; (4) building rapport; and (5) helping parents to advocate for themselves and their children. Service providers also have several recommendations for improving services to better meet the needs of immigrant families.

CONCLUSION: Clinicians should be cognizant of how culture influences the care they provide to clients. More training opportunities are needed for enhancing culturally sensitive care.

IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: • Pediatric rehabilitation providers working with immigrant families raising a child with a disability should engage in training and education around culturally sensitive care to better meet the needs of these clients. • More time is needed when working with immigrant families to build trust and rapport. • Clinicians need to be sensitive around gender issues and try to involve both parents in the decision making around the care for their child. • Healthcare providers should help clients to become more aware of the resources available to them in the hospital and in the community.

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