Hispanics’ Low Use of Hospice Care Related to Cultural Barriers, Misconceptions
Hospice services in Stanislaus County, Calif., where the majority of the residents are Mexican immigrants, largely are unused by the Hispanic population, in part because of misconceptions and cultural and language barriers, the Modesto Bee reports (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 4/28).
In March, the California HealthCare Foundation released a report that found fewer minorities than whites in California use hospice care for end-of-life services, in part because of health insurance policies, cost and cultural differences (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/19).
Hispanics last year made up 12% of residents at one county facility, Community Hospice. Hispanics account for 35% of the county's population, according to the Bee.
Cesar Cortez, a bilingual intake specialist for the hospice, said in Mexico, hospice care mostly is known among wealthier populations. The word "hospice" in Spanish refers to a home for children without parents. Many Hispanics also believe it is a place people go to die alone, he said.
Many Hispanics want to die at home in the care of family, Jose Rodriguez -- president of El Concilio, a Latino community organization -- said, adding that many Hispanics believe care of the elderly is the responsibility of family members.
Marian Kaanon, community relations director for Community Hospice, said, "We need to have better dialogue with minority groups to help them gain access to services." She added, "There is a language barrier. This is an extremely private, emotional time for families. It is very difficult to have someone come into the home if the caregiver doesn't speak the language" (Modesto Bee, 4/28).
PRI's "The World" on Tuesday reported on low rates of hospice use among Hispanics. Besides cultural obstacles, Hispanics might have concerns about affordability and whether their religious beliefs will be respected in a medical setting.
The segment includes comments from Jane Delgado, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health; Carole Austin, a faculty member in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas-Austin; and the director of programs at Hospice Austin, which has developed a three-year plan to work with churches and community groups to increase awareness about hospice among Hispanics (Bush, "The World," PRI, 5/1).
Audio of the segment is available online.