Religious divide

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Abstract: The purpose of this project was to partner with Project Interfaith and the Respite Resource Center to promote awareness of religious diversity, its effect on health care and to provide access to resources needed by healthcare workers. We used a workshop format to conduct training on religious diversity and how it can affect the way caregivers provide care. Through two day-long training seminars, participants reflected on their own religious views and learned about the religious views and beliefs of others. They learned about accommodating the beliefs of others under the law and about communicating in a sensitive manner. Participants also learned about how to access reliable health information.

Issue: The population of the United States continues to diversify religiously and religion is central to how many individuals understand themselves, their role in the world, and concepts of health, death, and dying. Feedback from professional care givers working in long-term facilities, hospitals and in-home care agencies revealed that issues of religion and religious diversity often are inadequately addressed or are completely neglected in the broad cultural competency training many professional care givers and health care professionals receive. Professional care givers need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively work with and serve religiously-diverse populations.

Action: We conducted training workshops on religious diversity issues in care giving. The day-long seminar provided useful information concerning religious diversity and health issues to individuals and representatives from agencies and facilities providing care for people of any age with special needs and chronic conditions. The target audience included professional caregivers, as well as volunteers and family caregivers with an emphasis on respite care providers. Nurses, certified nurse assistants, social workers, activity directors, health administrators, students, and other medical personnel were all encouraged to attend. The program included presentation, exercises and discussions on identity and religion, developing a common language for discussing religious diversity issues, accommodating clients’ religious needs and practices under the law, an overview of basic beliefs and religious demographics of the major religious communities, a discussion on best practices, and how to find reliable health information resources.

Context: The workshops were held in Omaha, Nebraska on November 6, 2008 and May 6, 2009. A total of 74 health care workers, public health workers, librarians and members of the general public participated in the two workshops. The instructors and the participants were all from western Nebraska including the counties of Douglas, Lancaster, Washington and Sarpy. We partnered with the Brookstone Meadows Assisted Living Facility and the Visiting Nurses Association of Omaha, the two sites for the workshops.

Outcome: A needs assessment was sent out to each registrant for completion was reviewed. Evaluation forms were given to each participant and were collected at the end of the workshop. A member of the Project Interfaith staff compiled the results of the evaluations. Some of the feedback included: “very interesting and very helpful in better understanding of different religious practices”, and “the audience was engaged in questions comparing and contrasting religions, discussing stereotypes. I learned so much more with this format than w separate groups.” and “The day was well organized and done with a tremendous amount of purpose and intent.”

Evidence: From the evaluations, 92% of participants felt their expectations of greater knowledge of religious diversity, and how to incorporate this knowledge into their workplace experiences were met or exceeded. We are still in the process of gathering data in regards to how the workshops have affected how participants deal with religious diversity in the workplace.

Contact information Principle Investigator: Judi Bergjord Creighton University Health Sciences Library 2500 California Plaza Omaha, NE 68178 bergjord@creighton.edu 402-280-5199

Beth Katz Project Interfaith PO Box 6037 Omaha, NE 68106 (402) 933-4647 www.projectinterfaithusa.org Email: info@projectinterfaithusa.org Facebook: Project Interfaith Fan Page Twitter: @projectintrf8th

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