Dr. Gloria Horsley connected with Deborah Gonzalez during the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, where they discussed the relationship between hospice systems and the Latino community. What kind of cultural effect does hospice have on this demographic? Gonzalez notes that the Latino community is under-served in hospice care, and she works diligently to bridge that gap. “I think that culture has to do a lot with it, especially because when we talk about hospice it sounds like being doomed,” she says.
Gonzalez believes that education and information are critical to helping the Latino community understand that a good hospice system is well aligned with their values. Cultural beliefs and family beliefs can be a foundation in hospice care. Plus, many in the Latino community take great pride in being the caretaker, and hospice care can seem like it takes that role away from them. “They see caregivers as themselves, not as outsiders,” explains Gonzales. However, with the right hospice system, it can be a team of insiders and “outsiders” working together.
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According to Gonzalez, “really understanding that we are helping them and completing what they’re doing” is paramount. Knowing how the Latino community will respond to such care is very important, since there are a number of nuances those who aren’t in the community don’t understand. For example, the Spanish word for “hospice” is very similar to “orphan,” which is of course something loving family members want to steer clear of.
Years ago in Latino communities, hospices served as places where people were taken when nobody could or would take care of them. That stigma lingers today and is a hurdle that hospice workers need to continue to work to overcome.