Background: Although published studies have examined the perceptions of caregivers who are attending to older adults with dementia concerning the values of human dignity and/or autonomy in institutional settings, none have explored the possible differences in actual behavior that relates to these values for caregivers from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds. Aims: Explore how caregivers with varied cultural backgrounds may differ in their real-time behavior regarding the autonomy and dignity of older adults with dementia and thereby determine whether that real-time behavior reveals new aspects of respect and disrespect for both the autonomy and dignity of those older adults. Research Design and Methods: A qualitative research based on non-participatory observations, was meticulously recorded using a written journal and a rigorous microanalysis to analyze the collected data. We made 58 shift-based observations (morning and evening) of 29 caregivers from 3 ethno-cultural groups working in 3 nursing homes in Israel. These groups included Israeli-born Jews (Sabras), Israeli Arab-Muslims (Arabs), and immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (IFSU). Results: (1) IFSU caregivers demonstrated more respect for autonomy and dignity, but also demonstrated disrespect for these values. (2) the main difference between the IFSU caregivers and other caregiver groups pertained to respect for their autonomy. The main specific facets of autonomy where IFSU caregivers surpassed their colleagues were information provision and persuasion. (3) toward both autonomy and dignity of these older adults, previously unaccounted for in the models we used, were discovered among the varied groups of caregivers, with only minor gaps between these groups. Discussion and Implications: This study—the first of its kind to focus on the real-time behaviors of caregivers from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds—reveals the potential effects of culture on applying practices related to dignity and autonomy during daily care. The findings may have important implications for caregiver training in multicultural societies.
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- human dignity