Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Tools Launched to Improve Health Services for Diverse Communities

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah’s increasingly diverse population poses unique challenges to health care facilities and public health agencies that serve growing numbers of clients and patients. In response to a growing number of requests for assistance, the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Disparities (OHD) has developed a training video and a practical toolkit to help state and local health agencies put into practice a set of national standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).

To ensure the materials are relevant, the CLAS video and toolkit are based on nationally promoted best practices, as well as Utah-specific information obtained through surveys and interviews with personnel from 36 programs from state and local health departments. The results revealed a significant need for CLAS standards and policies, as only 15% of the surveyed personnel felt their programs were “fully capable” of providing verbal or written language assistance to people with limited-English proficiency (LEP).

Language assistance is only one component covered under CLAS standards, and all health care organizations can benefit from enhancing their culturally- and linguistically-appropriate approaches to staff training, governance, workforce diversity, and policy making.

The CLAS video, “A Class about CLAS”, provides an overview of CLAS themes and features expert commentary and guidance from public health agencies, health care organizations and community-based organizations.

To provide practical guidance for anyone interested in implementing CLAS standards, the CLAS Toolkit offers discussion scenarios and highlights real examples of CLAS-related practices and policies now used across Utah. “We believe all health care organizations and public health agencies can benefit from these tools,” said UDOH Office of Health Disparities Outreach Coordinator Jake Fitisemanu, who notes that CLAS standards compliance is mandated for all programs that receive federal funds and all agencies seeking national accreditation.

The CLAS video and toolkit, along with additional CLAS-related resources, are available online for free download at www.health.utah.gov/disparities/training/CLAS.html.

# # #

Media Contact
Jake Fitisemanu
Outreach Coordinator
Office of Health Disparities