This project supports a program of cultural reforms to improve cultural sensitivity in acute health care institutions. The experience of Aboriginal people will be used as the central reference point. Systematic case studies of hospitals with different levels of experience in attempting to make their services and surrounds more culturally sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal patients, their families and friends, will be used to gather information and to inform the development and implementation of relevant tools and processes. The objective will be to produce tools and processes that assist hospitals to engage with local Aboriginal communities in a collaborative exercise of cultural reform.

The projected outcomes of this project included:

  • a comprehensive understanding of the diversity, rationale and effectiveness of tools and processes that have been used to improve the culture of hospitals from the perspective of Aboriginal patients, friends, family and carers
  • a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics that Aboriginal people believe would make hospitals more culturally appropriate
  • a comprehensive understanding of the government and accreditation policy conditions that need to be in place to ensure that cultural improvement can be linked into mainstream accountability processes
  • the publication of tools and handbooks describing various stakeholders’ roles in successfully developing a culturally sensitive hospital facility
  • a national network of Aboriginal people able to effectively participate in conventional continuous improvement activities that improve the culture of hospitals and health services. This will be achieved by offering formal and appropriate training to Aboriginal community members
  • accreditation processes that emphasise the use of tools and processes that encourage cultural reform in hospitals.

Project activity will be implemented in 6 phases. Phases 1–3 involve consultation with Aboriginal and mainstream health providers, a review of operating contexts within hospitals and the establishment of case studies within hospitals. Phases 4-6 involve the testing of interventions – culturally-sensitive continuous quality improvement tools and processes – on location. The ‘organisational readiness for change’ concept will be used to assist with understanding how best to introduce the tools and processes in individual settings.

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