Did you know that silence is a highly regarded value in Native American cultures? For some community members, there is no such a thing as “uncomfortable silence”. This value is a part of speech, processing and decision-making, according to cultural consultant Rico Vallejo. In 2009 he conducted a series of focus groups in Native American and Hispanic communities. The outcome of this qualitative research study has helped us at HealthStar to continue to improve our communications, customize our approach and evaluate our priorities. How so? Vallejo illustrates: “The concept of values has become central to branding -looking for shared values with consumers, for example. So I feel that it’s very important for an organization to know and understand intimately the values that they convey in the marketplace (what consumers see), because that becomes a platform from which to develop and evolve and communicate the brand, establishing and maintaining meaningful dialogues with prospects and customers.”
How could HealthStar provide cultural-relevant care without understanding what our communities consider important? How could a PCA caregiver find common ground with his/her clients without knowing their value systems? Empathy, patience, punctuality, generosity and an all encompassing sense of love and responsibility are just some of the values that HealthStar attempts to keep on top of every day and in every caregiver-client interaction.
One interesting learning from the conversations is that participants in all focus groups made a distinction between the values that they regard as important for themselves and their families and what they consider important for a worker coming to their home. Some of the findings were counter-intuitive: “They were very pragmatic about this – it’s nice to be virtuous and generous for example, but showing up on time and doing all the work needed (without rushing to the next appointment and leaving things undone) was more important” Vallejo adds.
For HealthStar, the value of values is not just about branding or gaining a competitive edge in the industry. It is about embracing the concept that what our clients think is critical in our work. After all, a value is only valuable if it helps us put into practice what we continue to learn from the communities we serve, striving for a higher standard of care based on mutual dignity and respect.