Diversity Informs the Care and Culture of VITAS
At VITAS, we recognize that the vast range of human experience produces an equally vast range of needs, wishes, and goals among people with advanced illness as they near the end of life. We train our staff to provide culturally sensitive care that acknowledges and respects differences in language, ethnicity, spirituality, class, gender, and sexual orientation, beginning with the first admissions visit all the way through bereavement support.
Like every aspect of care at VITAS, diversity begins with our compassionate interdisciplinary hospice teams. A variety of clinical, psychosocial, and spiritual specialists come together to provide care and support to patients and their families.
Our nurses, home health aides, physicians, chaplains, social workers, admissions personnel, and representatives come from diverse backgrounds and are equipped with the skills and tools to meet diverse needs. In the communities we serve, VITAS provides education, outreach, and financial support to ensure all people have access to high-quality hospice care and understand the benefits of utilizing these services.
Hospice was founded on the premise that everyone deserves comfort and dignity near the end of life. Diversity is a natural and necessary component in the realization of this goal.
To learn more about diversity at VITAS, explore these frequently asked questions. For more information about end-of-life care, please call us 24/7/365 at 800.582.9533.
My loved one prefers a language other than English. Does VITAS provide multilingual hospice care?
Yes, VITAS employs bilingual care team members from diverse linguistic backgrounds to ensure every patient and family has a voice. Hospice aims to remove barriers to a patient’s quality of life, and barriers to communication are no exception.
Our website is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Many VITAS educational pamphlets are available in several languages, including Creole, Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
How does VITAS provide culturally sensitive care for minority racial and ethnic groups?
VITAS believes more meaningful hospice experiences arise when our employees reflect our patients’ and families’ values and cultures. That’s why we are committed to recruiting diverse candidates from within the communities where we provide care.
More than half of our workforce comprises people who identify as members of a minority racial or ethnic group. We maintain strong relationships with the National Black Nurses Association, Black Nurses Rock, the Hispanic Nurses Association, and the Chi Eta Phi nursing sorority.
VITAS representatives provide cultural outreach and serve as hospice advocates and educators within traditionally underserved communities. Outreach efforts improve hospice access and train clinicians to provide more sensitive care in many diverse communities including:
- Indigenous/Native American
- Pacific Islander
Will VITAS accommodate my loved one’s religion/spirituality?
Yes, VITAS chaplains recognize and navigate a range of spiritual beliefs and deliver pastoral care that respects the religion or spirituality of each patient—without ascribing unsolicited dogma to the patient’s unique end-of-life journey.
Upon request, our chaplains can work with a patient’s clergy to provide more specific spiritual care tailored to their needs. VITAS provides spiritual outreach to diverse faith-based communities including:
- Christian Scientist
- Jehovah’s Witness
- Seventh Day Adventist
How does VITAS meet the needs of LGBTQ+ hospice patients?
Specialized training ensures our patients and families in the LGBTQ+ community always receive inclusive, validating care. We specifically appoint members of this community to serve as advisers.
Our approach to care incorporates recommendations from Age-Friendly Inclusive Services: A Practical Guide to Creating Welcoming LGBT Organizations, a cultural competency manual from the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. VITAS partners with Jewish Family Services, Inc. to provide the training “A Professional Approach to Serving the LGBT Population at End of Life” in many of the communities we serve.
What steps is VITAS taking to improve hospice access in traditionally underserved communities?
All VITAS programs are active participants in the communities they serve, sponsoring charity events, conducting educational conferences, and serving in volunteer leadership positions. We provide internships to local social workers, chaplains, and MBA/MHA students to ensure crucial support personnel reflect their communities. We engage with these communities through radio talk shows, television programs, newsletters, and other media.
Our representatives seek to improve hospice utilization in these communities by addressing the factors that limit access to end-of-life care. In particular, they work to help people learn about hospice and how it’s paid for so that patients and families can make a decision that is right for them.
- VITAS created the Bridging the Gap training initiative to inform healthcare professionals and spiritual leaders on the needs of Black people near the end of life.
- VITAS funded the Hospice Outreach and Low Literacy Outreach (HELLO) program to address health literacy barriers to care.
- In June 2020, VITAS partnered with “Medicine for Seniors” to restore access to prescription medication for Black seniors with diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, and respiratory issues in Chicago following the destruction of local businesses during civil unrest.
- The Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ 2018 Hospice Annual Report found that VITAS provided more service to Black and Hispanic patients than the state average.
- In Pinellas County, Florida, VITAS worked with the Urban League and community advisors to improve knowledge of hospice services and develop trust in the Black community, underscored by our donation of $50,000 in scholarships for local Black students.
- We conduct Missing Our Mothers events in faith-based communities of color to support those experiencing loss, establish trust, and build hospice awareness.
While poverty and homelessness affect people of every demographic, they disproportionately impact people of color and members of other minority groups. VITAS routinely supports individuals and families experiencing homelessness and economic hardship.
- In Bay County, Florida, we donated $140,000 to qualified agencies to assist with shelters, housing, vouchers, and food assistance and distribution.
- In Florida’s Treasure Coast, we granted $100,000 to local housing assistance, $90,000 for food assistance, and $50,000 each to two volunteer charity clinics.
- In Los Angeles, we supported local homeless veterans by donating personal care packages, conducting blanket and clothing drives, and housing and feeding veterans in local motels.
- In Cincinnati, we helped the local Veterans Affairs hospital conduct a flu vaccine event and donated fresh produce to veterans facing food insecurity during COVID-19.