Culturally appropriate care illustration

What is culturally appropriate care?

According to CQC draft guidance published in March 2021, culturally appropriate care can be described as care that is alert, considerate, and responsive to the attitudes, feelings and/or circumstances of the individual that has a distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic or cultural heritage

This also includes being aware of the cultural heritage of those that belong to communities that have nuanced cultural identities. For example, those that identify as LGBTQ+ or deaf people that use British Sign Language.

Other terms for this topic include culturally competent care or culturally sensitive care.

Why is culturally appropriate care important to those receiving care?

According to Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 9:

The care and treatment of service users must—

  1. be appropriate,
  2. meet their needs, and
  3. reflect their preferences.

Culturally sensitive care contributes to the delivery of good person-centred care, which encourages individualised care that is specific to each client’s circumstances.

This means that care providers should be mindful of cultural differences between different clients and employ strategies and processes that cater to their needs.

Culturally appropriate care can:

  • Allow individual clients to retain some of their independence and fulfil their personal preferences and expressed wants and needs.
  • Maintain a client’s sense of self and personal value, which can give them the best opportunity to lead the life that they want.
  • Positively impact physical and mental health outcomes.
  • Encourage greater engagement with other service providers and the client’s family.

What does the CQC expect of adult social care providers around culturally appropriate care?

The expectations relating to culturally competent care can be linked to the CQC’s key lines of enquiry:

Safe: Recording and acting on cultural considerations about medicines.

Effective: The service takes cultural, ethical and religious needs into account when planning meals and drinks

Caring: Staff give help and support in culturally sensitive ways and recognise when people’s preferences are not being taken on board, or properly respected.

Responsive: People, their families and carers are involved in developing their care plans. This includes identifying people’s needs on the grounds of equality characteristics and their choices and preferences and looking at how these needs are met. The plans are met and are regularly reviewed.

Well-led: The service has a positive culture that is person-centred, open, inclusive, and empowering. Leaders, managers, and staff have a well-developed understanding of equality, diversity and human rights.

How to provide culturally appropriate care

There are many different aspects and variations in culture. Providing care should always be based on an assessment of individual needs. Everyone’s cultural needs should be part of their care planning and review.

The most important things to do are to:

  • Ask the person or their representatives what the person prefers and then meet their preferences wherever possible.
  • Try to understand a person’s history and background.
  • Ask questions if you are unsure.
  • Be alert to how someone is responding to care – are they happy or unhappy? And to be curious to work out if care needs to be provided differently because of culture.

What can care workers do to provide culturally sensitive care?

  • Support an individual’s religious or spiritual practice.
  • Get to know about any dietary requirements including food preparation and food presentation preferences.
  • Understand cultural nuances around politeness and deference.
  • Give people a choice of what they wear.
  • Enable people to enjoy entertainment and activities that are meaningful to them.
  • Recognise important community or cultural events that are of interest to the client.

What can care managers do to ensure culturally competent care?

  • It can be helpful matching staff with people from the same culture. But this should be a choice, not an assumption and discussed with both the person using the service and the member of staff.
  • Use the language skills of your staff team – in some services a member of staff that shares a language with someone can help other staff to learn a few helpful phrases. But members of staff should always be asked whether they are willing to take on this role of sharing their language or cultural skills and knowledge.
  • Involve people’s families in the planning – if appropriate.
  • Build cultural competence into the training and education of staff.
  • Cultural events in the service can recognise staff cultures as well as those of people using the service, as a way of increasing understanding between people.
  • Be mindful of racism and cultural discrimination towards staff from people using the service. Open and transparent culture is important so that staff can raise this with managers and solutions can be found.

How can technology help in the delivery of culturally appropriate care?

Consistency is important to care. As software providers, it is our job to provide simple software solutions that unconsciously augment behaviours to help improve the delivery of care and help providers meet the latest CQC guidance. Here’s what we are doing at Unique IQ to help:

  • Digital staff and client records – have a clear and detailed view of all staff and client’s cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds (with consent).
  • Carer matching – use the information drawn from digital records to match the right carer with the right client, including language and personal background
  • Client family portal – Allow family to contribute, comment on and engage with a care plan. Allow family to review notes, provide feedback, check documents, and upload useful resources like photographs and digital mementos that may help carers deliver enhanced care. 
  • Training records – keep ahead of expiring qualifications and identify what other training is required at the touch of a button.
  • Training integrations – integrations with training providers like My Learning Cloud, allow care managers to create bespoke training plans within our software.
  • Setting ‘tasks’ – to act as reminders for culturally-appropriate events or practices as outlined in the care plan

Our society is undeniably diverse in which people with very different ways of life coexist. People from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities may require care at some stage or another and everyone has the right to the fundamental standards of care. Culturally appropriate care is a huge part of the care equation, and for providers looking to exceed expectations, it must be carefully considered.

Want to know more about technology and the CQC? Read our guide here.


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