Select Health's commitment to cultural competency

Our commitment to culturally competent health care

First Choice by Select Health of South Carolina has an appreciation for the need to coordinate culturally and linguistically appropriate services for an underserved and vulnerable membership. As a result, we established a Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) program in early 2005. The CLAS program manages health programs and services that satisfy the unique needs of a diverse population.

Fifteen national CLAS standards lay out required and recommended practices related to culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services. The standards are categorized by the four themes: 

  • The provision of culturally competent care
  • Language assess services
  • Organizational support for cultural competency

What is cultural competence?

Cultural competence is a set of attitudes, skills, behaviors and policies that allow organizations and staff to work well in cross-cultural situations. It reflects the ability to understand members’ health-related beliefs, attitudes, practices and communication patterns. Cultural competence can:

  • Improve services
  • Strengthen programs
  • Increase community participation
  • Close the gaps in health status among diverse population groups

Culture is not limited solely to race, ethnicity and/or language. Culture refers to nonphysical traits shared by a group of people and passed from one generation to the next. Examples include:

  • The culture of poverty
  • Chronic disease
  • Regional location
  • Sex/gender
  • Age
  • Occupation

Why cultural competence?

The changing demographics of the United States have dramatically affected health care services. According to the 2000 US Census, about 18 percent of the population older than age 5 speaks a language other than English in the home.

Here in South Carolina, the trend is very similar. Many people of various ethnicities migrated to the Palmetto State through the past decade.

Because of the continued growth in immigration, high poverty rates, and low literacy levels in South Carolina, it is important we use culturally appropriate services that meet the basic health care needs of our diverse member population.

By adopting culturally appropriate services and behaviors, we are better positioned to:

  • Respond to current and projected demographic changes
  • Eliminate health disparities among ethnic and minority populations
  • Improve the quality of health services and outcomes
  • Reduce the likelihood of liability and malpractice claims
  • Meet federal and state mandates
  • Understand the impact of culture in health and illness
  • Enhance the workplace environment