Communication and trauma informed care for displaced persons | MOOC reflections

It has been a really interesting week 3 of this year’s Annual Physiopedia MOOC on Understanding the Rehabilitation Needs of Displaced Persons – we have been exploring the role of communication, teamwork and the huge importance of trauma-informed care when working with displaced persons.

Course 3: Communication and Trauma Informed Care for Displaced Persons

Research shows that many displaced persons globally experience increased barriers to access to health care. Inequalities when they do gain access include lower quality of health care, which often results in poorer health outcomes.

It has become very obvious to me after taking this course that communication is a vital component of what we do as rehabilitation professionals every day.

When working with people from different cultures, who speak a different language or may be communicating through a second language, or who have lived through trauma – then how we communicate can make a huge difference to providing positive access to healthcare services.

It was really interesting learning more about the role of culture in health, and how non-visible aspects of culture can often determine how people perceive health and illness, and how they will respond thereto. I loved the practical tool, CRASH (Culture, Respect, Assess, Sensitivity and Humility), developed by Rust and colleagues to address many communication issues that rehabilitation professionals may experience working with  culturally diverse patients. I recognise that striving for cultural and professional competence takes effort, but it makes all the difference to the care we provide. A key take home for me is that I need to assess my own personal implicit bias, cultural competence, and cultural humility so that I can then make a plan to address any areas that I struggle with to ensure I consider cultural needs when communicating with patients. 

After taking this course I also recognise much more the impact of trauma, and the importance of  taking a trauma informed care approach.

I work in Paediatrics, and it was really interesting to learn how those who have adverse childhood experiences, are more vulnerable to a variety of health conditions and diseases, e.g., mental health disorders, substance abuse, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain disorders. By providing trauma-informed care to those I work with, focusing on the importance of patient-centred care rather than applying general treatment approaches, I can help provide opportunities for children and their families to rebuild their self-control and empowerment, and provide them with more opportunities to engage in services that reflect a compassionate perspective of their presenting problems.

Communication and Trauma Informed Care for Displaced Persons Course

I think what I have learned in this course provides a great grounding for working with diverse populations and leads really well into course 4 in the Understanding the Rehabilitation Needs of Displaced Persons Programme. Course 4 explores the Considerations for Working with Diverse Displaced Person Populations, in particular it examines the challenges experienced by displaced children, older adults and the LGBTQIA+ community.

I hope you can join me to learn more about the impact of forced migration on these diverse groups and discuss strategies to minimise barriers to culturally competent care.

This post was written by Naomi O’Reilly the MOOC manager at Physiopedia.

This work is part of the ReLAB-HS activity and is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).