When a client or a group of clients seeks assistance from your organisation, both the worker and the client hold some expectations of what will be needed and what will be provided. Misunderstandings can occur if either the client or the worker makes assumptions which have not been tested or clarified.
Community and disability services workers need to be aware that assumptions and expectations may be based on:
Demographics, i.e. characteristics of the population such as age, gender ratios, births, deaths, etc. Consideration must be given to demographics in relation to the location of your organisation.
Socio-economic, e.g. the current economy, employment and income.
Psychographic characteristics, i.e. people’s interests, activities and lifestyles. These vary from town to town, and from region to region, depending on facilities and environment. For example, lifestyle near the coast is vastly different from that in the outback.
Life cycle stages, i.e. young people, young married couples, under 35s, elderly people and children.
Cultural background. Culture is the most fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and expectations. Culture provides a pattern of perceptions, values and behaviours that have influenced a person’s perspective on life and the environment in which he/she lives.
A culture is made up of many subcultures. In other words, neighbours and friends may come from the same ethnic background, but may still have differing values and behaviours which develop through their own families.
Meeting cultural expectations: How does an organisation meet the expectations of clients and co-workers from diverse backgrounds?