As digital health services become mainstream there are opportunities to improve care and support for culturally and linguistically diverse seniors, but low levels of digital and health literacy mean they risk missing out, a provider says.
Telehealth and e-health are no longer in trial mode but are fast becoming part of the way older people are looked after in this country, according to Stelvio Vido, CEO of Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, which provides services including aged care to migrants and refugees in Melbourne.
Cultural norms, language and low rates of health literacy are among the barriers to older Australians from a CALD background accessing aged care services, Mr Vido said. Enabling this group to share in the benefits of ehealth and telehealth required improving their health literacy as well as their digital and e-health literacy, he added.
“Their low level of health literacy and digital literacy means that telehealth does not become as relevant or accessible mode of care and support for them as it is for the rest of us,” Mr Vido told the Future of Aged Care conference in Sydney this week.
“One of the challenges for these groups is their own cultural norms and those language barriers that need to be overcome so they are comfortable to take in information and understand it.”
Collaborative approach needed
Based on lessons from sector telehealth implementations, including medication and chronic disease management programs he was involved in at RDNS, Mr Vido called for a collaborative approach between multicultural organisations, health and technology providers to improve health and digital literacy among CALD seniors.
The best approach would be to plug into existing support networks, such as those managed and delivered by multicultural organisations with cultural expertise and capabilities to support these clients, he said.
“The planned activity groups and support groups that exist are a ready-made platform where clients spend several hours,” Mr Vido said. He noted this was a view supported by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia.
Activities to improve digital, health and e-health literacy ranged from basic ICT use through to health education delivered in their own language via a video conference nurse educator call, he said.
Resources such as video-based health information from other countries in the language of that country could also be utilised, he said.
“It requires a combined effort from utilising the cultural expertise of established multicultural organisations and health and technology providers to deliver improved digital literacy, health literacy, and self-management for clients from a CALD background.”
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