Growing cultural competence to deliver culturally safe care
We are pleased to advise that Council has made progress on the review of its cultural standards. We will shortly issue a consultation document on Proposed updates to professional competencies and changes to related scopes of practice. These proposals reflect the Council’s strengthened focus on the importance of cultural competence to deliver culturally safe oral health care.
The Council’s Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners was introduced in 2015, that encompassed the practice standards. The last practice standards to be reviewed relate to cultural competence. Earlier work on the review of these practice standards was delayed during the development and implementation of the new recertification programme. More recently, last year all strategic work was put on hold while we managed the impacts of COVID-19.
Our work to date on cultural competence standards for practitioners
The first phase of work was completed in 2020 with the introduction of a new cultural competence domain in the joint New Zealand/Australia accreditation standards for New Zealand accredited educational programmes. This came into effect on 1 January 2021. This new domain ensures students and new graduates can provide culturally competent engagement and appropriate care for Māori and Pacific peoples, to help improve Māori and Pacific oral health outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Having completed the work on the accreditation, Council’s attention, with input from Te Aō Marama – the NZ Māori Dental Association and our two New Zealand education providers, turned to the required minimum graduate competencies for all professions (except dental specialists) for registration and ongoing practice. The draft competencies propose a new stand-alone domain for cultural competence and cultural safety.
As noted above, the review of competencies has now been completed and we will shortly issue a consultation document on Proposed updates to professional competencies and changes to related scopes of practice.
Council’s budgeted expenditure for 2021/22 provided for reactivating our deferred cultural competence standards review, including competencies to enable effective and respectful interaction with Māori (as required by section 118 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003).
The review of the cultural competence practice standards is scheduled for the latter part of 2021. We will be working with Te Aō Marama, the Māori Oral Health Quality Improvement Group, and other stakeholders to review these two relevant cultural competence practice standards:
As always, we will consult with practitioners on proposed changes once the review of these practice standards has been completed.
Council's focus on cultural competence and safety in the future
Concurrently with completing work on the cultural competence standards for practitioners, the Council is working on setting its strategic direction for the next five years. To that end the Council has established a strategic project E Tipu e Rea, to give effect to the Council’s statutory obligations relating to cultural competence and cultural safety.
The current and future focus on cultural competence and cultural safety, and improving Māori health outcomes, aligns with:
- existing government policy for Hauora Māori/health
- the Ministry of Health’s Whakamaua: Māori Health Action Plan 2020-2025
- the Waitangi Tribunal decision Wai 2575: Health services and outcomes
- the new Māori Health Authority recently announced for health sector reforms
- the review of health regulators on ensuring that the principles of equity and of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi are followed in the implementation of all its functions
- growing public awareness and expectations in this space
- approaches by other New Zealand health regulators, and professional regulation more broadly.
As part of E Tipu e Rea, the Council will work on building and enhancing its own organisational cultural competence. We will assess and improve our own cultural competence, and review our processes and procedures to ensure our governance and operational systems recognise our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and that we embed these in the delivery of our functions.
We expect that some of this strategic work will also inform the current work we are doing to set standards for practitioners to deliver culturally safe care.
We will share with you Council’s strategic direction for the next five years in the last quarter of this year.
We look forward to your support as we work through these changes.
 This review focussed on the undergraduate competencies, as the dental specialist competencies were developed with the Dental Board of Australia in 2015/16.