Developing the Cultural Competence of Health Professionals Working with Gypsy Travellers

Authors

  • Gill Francis MSc, BSc (Hons), RN

    1. Travellers and Gypsies at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
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    • Gill Francis, MSc, BSc (Hons), RN, is health inclusion worker for Travellers and Gypsies at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, England. She has worked with Gypsy Traveller communities for the past 5 years, involved in health literacy and advocacy, community development, cultural competence training, and research exploring the factors informing the approach of health professionals working with Gypsy Travellers. She may be reached at gillianfrancis@nhs.net.


Abstract

This project explored one of the issues affecting access to health care services by Gypsy Travellers, namely the cultural competence of health professionals. The aim of the project was to support the development of cultural competence in health professionals through an exploration of staff attitudes, knowledge, and understanding of the cultural identity and health needs of Gypsy Travellers.

Participants were drawn from community nursing services and members of the Irish Traveller community. The data collated from staff suggested there was limited understanding of Gypsy Traveller culture, health needs, or issues affecting the community, and the perceptions held were informed largely by negative media stereotypes.

The benefits of honest, nonjudgmental, open discussion within professional forums about the existence and impact of bias and prejudice on practice were highlighted alongside the need for an improved understanding of the issues faced by Gypsy Travellers to improve access to care by this often excluded and marginalized community.

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