Cultural Safety

COVID-19: Embedding Cultural Safety in the Pandemic Response

The Covid-19 pandemic has produced extremely challenging times, leaving many of us scrambling to adjust. Amidst this scenario, health care leaders and staff have been demonstrating immense dedication and commitment in responding to the crisis. We recognize the multitude of ways health care providers have been stepping into the work, taking up new roles and responsibilities wherever and whenever needed. As we continue to come together to address the amplifying situation, we would like to take a moment to remind health care leaders and service providers of the particular and differential impacts this disease may have on Indigenous Peoples and their communities. 

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Cultural safety is recognizing, gaining knowledge, and respecting the differences in each individual Island Health serves.  By truly listening and learning together in a way that maintains personal dignity, an authentic relationship of trust, respect, and collaboration can develop to ensure better access to health care services, improved health outcomes, and healthier working relationships.

The right to feel 'culturally safe' is for everyone. The Cultural Safety Program is committed to decreasing health disparities for Indigenous peoples, by increasing access to health care for Indigenous peoples.

Resources for the public

To support culturally appropriate care for Indigenous patients and families, our staff can connect you with an Indigenous Health Liaison Nurse who can help:

  • Explain health information;
  • Work with hospital staff, patients, family and community service partners to support clear communication and seamless discharge planning; and
  • Identify eligibility and access to non-insured health benefits for out-of-town patients and families.

Contact your local Indigenous Liaison Nurse.

Why an Indigenous focus?

Health care service delivered in a culturally safe manner improves the care experience and health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. As a group, they do not access health care services at the same rate as non-Indigenous peoples. 

Indigenous peoples, as the first peoples of Canada, hold a unique place within our history and within our society. The history of cultural assimilation, residential schools and health care is one of the saddest chapters in Canadian history and has had a devastating impact on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Health statistics that compare Indigenous to non-Indigenous health status reflect unacceptable health disparities of the diverse cultural groups in Canada. 

When Indigenous peoples feel safe, they are more likely to access health services.  Creating a safe, welcoming environment is a key goal of the program.

Creating a welcoming environment

Join us as we visit WSÁNEĆ First Nations carvers James Jimmy, Charles Elliott, Mark Henry and Doug LaFortune at their studios and find out how the totem poles they created for Saanich Peninsula Hospital help us create a culturally safe care setting by honouring their traditions, their ancestors, the natural world and the staff who care for families at this community hospital.

Full video: Totem Poles celebrate the connection of culture and care at Saanich Peninsula Hospital