“It’s our future, isn’t it?” Nurses’ experiences and conceptualisation of best care practices for an increasingly diverse patient population
As the UK is increasingly becoming a multicultural country, the health system needs to adapt and ensure that all patients, regardless of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds, get equal quality care. Evidence has shown that too often, ethnic minority groups experience poorer access to health care and have lower health statuses than the majority population. Health care professionals are having to adapt their practice to prevent such discrepancies. Yet, little is known about how staff experience these changes. It was the purpose of this research to explore nurses’ experiences of dealing with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds, the challenges they face and the strategies used in practice. It also aimed to understand how they conceptualise best quality care for diverse patients, allowing better insights into how policies and trainings could better reflect and enhance professionals’ realities and practice. This was achieved through 10 semi-structured interviews with nurses working in a variety of settings across the country. The findings reveal that nurses feel poorly equipped and supported to care for patients from different cultures and rely on individual coping strategies. The data also allows clearer understandings of how contextual factors, such as time constraints, management or staffing levels influence practices. It also highlighted that, at the moment, culturally competent practices are conceptualised as an ‘added value’ by frontline nurses. The study concluded with practical implications and recommendations to strengthen policies, emphasising on the need for better training and support. This research, although shedding light on weaknesses, highlighted a strong desire from practising nurses to put diversity higher on the agenda.