Policy tips for cultural responsiveness

It’s foundational 

Cultural responsiveness is foundational for any social service, health or other agency in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It’s  a core requirement of the new Health and Disability Standards, which take effect on 28 February 2022. It’s also central to the Social Sector Accreditation Standards.

The foundational nature of cultural responsiveness should reflect across an organisation’s policies and procedures for operations, governance, programmes, client services etc. It begins with an understanding and acknowledgment of the history of Aotearoa and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

At the Policy Place, we reflect “foundational” in our online policy and procedure service by having a group of integrity policies that speak to the heart of the agency – policies addressing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Equality and inclusion, the Kaupapa of the agency, Disability Confidence, Whānau Engagement and Pasifika. Because the policies are part of an online platform, they are meant to, and can easily, be considered as part of other policy requirements in areas like HR and operations.

It’s a big concept

In the health sector, cultural responsiveness involves a broad meaning of “culture.” It includes, but is not limited to, values, attitudes and beliefs that can be associated with ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexuality, socioeconomic status, occupation,  iwi affiliation, religion, spirituality and disability. 

Responsiveness means having regard to culture and involves self and organisationally -aware practice. Those providing a service have undergone a process of reflection of their own cultural identity and the impact this has on policies, practice and services.

This is not just the job of one policy. At the Policy Place we have policies addressing person- and whānau-centred practice so that the circumstances, needs and values of those served trump preset programmes.

Power dynamics must be recognised and challenged

A criterion of the Ngā Paerewa Health and Disability Standard is that it is safe to ask in the organisation ‘how is institutional and systemic racism acting here?”

Policies should encourage and support staff and leadership to identify and do something about systemic inequalities, for example:

  • that access by those traditionally underserved by the social and health sectors will be monitored and prioritised in planning;
  •  identify and address the impacts of colonisation (eg monocultural workforce, policies and practices) eg strengthen and build your Māori workforce; outreach strategies).

Develop a plan with your policy 

At the Policy Place, cultural responsiveness policy is supplemented by a Cultural Competency and Responsiveness plan. In this way, online members get the benefits of policy as well as a plan that they can use and modify to fit their circumstances and aspirations.

If you’re not part of our online service, you can implement your own policy with a plan. Your policy can state the important and enduring  requirements. Your plan can support you to action them. With your team, identify your responsiveness goals, key actions you will take to achieve them, how you’ll know you’re progressing and review dates.

How we can help

Cultural responsiveness is embedded in the suite of online policies and procedures we provide to our members. Our members come from all walks of life so our challenge is to make cultural responsiveness policies appropriate and meaningful for different contexts.

It’s an ongoing project of improvement that we’re committed to.

If you want help with your policies and procedures, contact us.   

Helpful Resources

For some great resources on cultural responsiveness check out these:

Ministry of Health, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Te Tiriti) Framework

Ministry of Health, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Te Tiriti) Framework

Inclusive Health Principles and Strategies

Intellectual Disabilities ODI Guidance and resources for employers and business owners

Learning and education modules on understanding bias in health care

Who me- biased? He ngākau haukume tōku? HQSCNZ. (youtube)