The U.S. Administration on Aging recently released a toolkit to help organizations, including those that employ social workers, plan and implement culturally competent services for older adults and family caregivers.
However, Chris Herman, an NASW senior practice associate, said that “the toolkit should be of value to anyone working with older adults, not just those employed by an agency.” She pointed out that the toolkit’s list of online resources directs readers to several resources on NASW’s own website, including its standards for cultural competency in social work practice.
The toolkit lays out a four-step process for planning services for diverse populations, the first of which is identify gaps in the agency’s capacity and knowledge regarding the communities it serves. For this step, the AoA recommends assessing the policies, procedures, mission statements and community perceptions of the agency. It also recommends assessing the knowledge, skills, practices, personal attitudes, behaviors and beliefs of all individuals who influence agency policy or provide direct services, such as staff, managers, board members, committee members, consumer boards and volunteers.
Next, the AoA recommends that the agency better acquaint itself with the populations it serves by complementing the resources it has already with those of partnering organizations. Agencies also should look to client data and client input to better tailor its services.
The third step is for the agency to determine which services are most appropriate for the populations it serves and design those services while staying mindful of the structural and cultural barriers that could impede service delivery.
The fourth and final step is to assess the agency’s effectiveness and client satisfaction.
An accompanying questionnaire in the toolkit helps facilitate progression through each step. The toolkit also contains in-depth presentations, exercises and diversity training tips, as well as a list of other resources for planning culturally competent services.
“In many ways, the toolkit complements NASW’s practice standards and indicators for cultural competence in social work practice,” Herman said. “AoA is sending the message that cultural competency isn’t optional, it’s essential to effective service delivery.”
New Website 2017: The Administration for Community Living: People with Disabilities, Older Adults, Family & Friends