Cultural Differences in Caregiving: Answers from Robert Kutchera

robert kutchera

For our first #DMSHealth Twitter chat of October, we had the honor of having our chat questions answered by Robert Kutchera, a distinguished “Results Speaker” who developed appealing social interaction techniques to challenge interpersonal communication issues. They are “Irresistible Communication” and “Cognitive Humor Psychology”, both created while working at a teaching psychiatric hospital. He is also an experience caregiver who wrote the heartwarming and funny caregiving how-to book “God Would You Hire ME? I Already Have”.

In his own words this is Robert’s life work experience before becoming a Results Speaker:

“I lectured and performed in both languages (English and Spanish) nine years before 240,000 passengers on 16 cruise ships, and ashore in France and Germany. On board, I taught SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) at lifeboat drills, for about 11,000 passengers. I served in the U.S. Navy and studied personal survival. About four years in two hospitals, with one year assisting in the Operating Room. And care gave 12 years for my mom and aunt, through to hospice. I taught Spanish in private school to English speaking students.”

Robert was very kind to provide answers to the inquires we prepared for our weekly chat (Wednesdays at 3pmEST on Twitter using the hashtag #DMSHealth) on caregiving covering the week’s topic of “Cultural Differences in Caregiving”. Here are his answers:

  1. What cultural differences are seen in caregiving?

There are very small, but significant dialogue blocks as to gender and age, particularly aspects of daily caregiving, when diversity or nationality is included.

Cultural traditions are innocently bypassed by some Anglos, in some respects, because of less closer family ties at home, if only because of smaller households.

In multicultural environments, English infrequently plays a small dynamic in the disconnect because it is not a romance language. English is the dynamic language of conciseness, the Web, science, medicine and technology, worldwide. For air traffic controllers too.

But it is also that lesser human verbal touch, that few opera librettos are ever in English. And why a romance language (plus Greek) often have passionate, feeling music and poetry and are richer than contextual English. In Spanish there are two distinct words for love, in Greek there are five. The English speaker, left with only one word for love for example, is faced with saying they can love their new car, when a car doesn't give love.

With English, there's an quick informal connection, often first names are used at the beginning, so there is that approach. It's like 'cut to the chase'. It is also considered one of the more difficult languages to master (Yale University), since there are more colloquial terms, less so but with confusing slang. Also, English has 30% more words, at 570,000 word count, than say Spanish.

With Spanish, there's a bit more differential tone. In the formal sense, "Usted". and familiar, "Tu". Part of the romance, ha! Taken together, Spanish and English are an amazing beneficial health care home run! (another colloquialism!)

Caregiving is a demanding, endless effort, spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. One that most don't volunteer for, is sudden ("Oh they fell and now can't walk!"), but very often joyful to carry out. Love expressed between caregiver and care receiver are the hallmark of one the Ten Commandments, 'Love Thy Neighbor', However in the medical venue, for a petite wife, say lifting a larger husband out of the bathtub is a back breaker that can lead to hip surgery. So the question becomes, who then takes care of BOTH when she gets incapacitated. Which is why one in four caregivers die before the care receiver is laid to rest.

Recognizing these set customs, we need to listen better at the meaning being the words. That's how love is spread around joyfully!

2.            What socio-economical factors from each culture determine a good or bad caregiving experience?

With paid insurance, government programs and assistance, plus benevolent and/or voluntary community care, there can be good care. However, without active LISTENING, errors occur.

The (Joint Commission on Accreditation Of Healthcare Organizations, today, The Joint Commission) ERRORS occur in health care when there is poor interpersonal communication. A fact: It used to be. Decades ago, you didn't have to put an 'x' on the leg being operated on, today...oh, boy. The Joint Commission's program since 2006, is called "Speak Up!"

3.            How much does culture influence caregiving?

It's how you get well better and faster. with the personal touch. Any culture can add that to the success of caregiving.

4.            What are the advantages of caring for a loved one at home?

Home care is a lifesaver, they smell the appetite inducing aroma of good cooking, laughter and the everyday happy life around them, kids and for sure pet therapy. There are few errors at home. On the BIG plus side, care receivers get better more often, all things being equal, like if they don't need to be taken away from the home environment for physical therapy etc. So there is definitely more long-term success and life, being at home.

5.            What are the advantages of registering your loved one at a care home?

You get the awesome professional caregiver support and stress reduction for you to complete each day. In fact, Discount Medical Supplies does for you. First they care about you and your family. By giving high quality service and the price match guarantee on all products.

6.            Do cultural minorities in a certain country see a difference when they take on the task of caregiving?

Obviously yes. It is the mix of caregiver, care receiver, professional expertise and support that makes it different, but equal when there's healthy balance, an absence of abuse,  loving care and shared spirituality.  Here's where touch makes a healing, successful difference.

Touching (with their approval and after their understanding) the care receiver's spine with an open palm, as in a hand hug, then a bit after, gently with fingers, going down then up, GENTLY, embraces the Autonomic Nervous System. It is home to spinal nerves and reacts to an embrace in a highly positive way. It is a primal hug, restoring some significant balance in the sick-and well. That's why hugging is so much fun!

7.            Which is best for life expectancy: home or institution, is it culturally linked?

Each patient and setting is different. Depending on the complexity of administered (daily) therapies, in general the home-based environment for the patient helps them last longer, the slide isn't as pronounced, particularly onset dementia is slower, if only because they are not (cognitively) left alone in a wheelchair. At home, there is more human interaction and more (non-medical) touch and personal verbal reciprocity.

The downward slide is accentuated when talking next to a sick person to another person, about them In The Third Person. Like, "Her arm doesn't look good today."  This dehumanizes and affects well being with a negative outcome. Awful. The person hearing this feels hopeless, helpless and gone.

8.            Can the caregiving tasks be molded around the patient’s culture?

Again aromas. Physical surroundings. Music, especially singing, storytelling, inclusive, public cultural gatherings, remembering old times, photo albums, a outside fresh air in the cultural neighborhood. Relating to their culture's movies and TV. Also something interactive like game or participatory activity, sharing a new child's development in the old traditions of country and spirit.

And asking what makes them feel loved.

We all want that too!

Visit Robert’s homepage to know more about him and the services he offers.

Related Read:

The #DMSHealth Chat, Join the Conversation

#DMSHealth Tweetchat Recap: When to Say No to Caregiving

Caregiving is not a burden if you see it with the eyes of love