+ General Country Information
+ History
+ Concept of Time
+ Family and friends
+ Gender
+ I or We Attitudes
+ Manners and Taboos
+ Spiritual care
+ Communication Style
+ Greetings
+ Language and Communication
+ Non-verbal Communication - Eye contact
+ Non-verbal Communication - Gestures
+ Non-verbal Communication - Personal Space
+ Attitudes and understanding of dementia and other health issues
+ Attitudes to end of life care
+ Attitudes to pain
+ Attitudes to residential care
+ Care information
+ Cultural Activities
+ Cultural Traits
+ Food and Diet
+ Music
+ Special Days - Christmas
+ Special Days - Easter
+ Special Days - New Year
+ Special Days - Other
+ Superstitions

Compare with another culture

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Australian

Chinese

Croatian

Dutch

Filipino

German

Greek

Hungarian

Indian

Italian

Malaysian

Maltese

Maori

Nepalese

New Zealander

Polish

South Korean

Spanish

Sri Lankan

Ukrainian

Vietnamese

Generalist

  • Greece is located in the continent of Europe.
  • Greece is bordered by the following four countries; Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey.
  • Athens is the capital of Greece.
  • Greece ranks as the 97th largest country with a total land area of 131,957 square kilometres (Central Intelligence Agency, n.d).
  • The population of Greece is approximately 10,775,643 (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015).
  • The major ethnic groups of Greece include Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7% (2001 census).
  • The climate of Greece is temperate with mild, wet winters and dry, hot summers.
  • Although Cyprus is an independent country and many people identify themselves as Cypriot, some people may identify themselves as Greek or Cypriot Greek.
  • Macedonia is also an independent country and there may be sensitivity amongst those that come from Macedonia.
  • For further information regarding Cyprus or Macedonia please refer to the “General country overview resources” section of this app.

Tips

  • Understand that a person’s country of birth does not define their culture. Whilst we are “born into culture” we are not “born with culture”. A person’s “culture” is something that is learnt from our environment and by our individual experiences. It continuously adapts to our changing circumstances throughout our lives.
  • Determine what culture or cultures your care recipient identifies with.
  • Keep in mind that the culture in metropolitan areas varies with culture in rural areas and that culture in different regions within a country may also vary significantly.
  • Learn about your care recipient’s life history, and who they identify with, to determine their individual cultural traits. Document any significant details.
  • Understand how your care recipient’s culture informs their values, behaviours, beliefs assumptions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities.

Resources

Generalist

History of Migration to Australia

  • The gold rush in Australia in the 1850’s saw the first significant wave of Greek migration.
  • Many pre-war Greek settlers in Australia were men. They ran small catering businesses, shops, cafes, restaurants, or worked in fishing, sugar or lead smelting industries.
  • Greek organisations were established in Sydney and Melbourne and the Orthodox Church was the central focus of the Greek community.
  • Schools were organised to help preserve the Greek language and culture.
  • Life was not easy for new arrivals.
  • Greeks were subjected to discrimination and in 1915 and 1916 there were anti-Greek riots in Australia.
  • A “secret census” was also conducted in 1916 in preparation for the possible internment of Greek immigrants, in case Greece joined the Axis powers.
  • Further discrimination and riots against Greeks and other Europeans took place during the 1930s.
  • Between the World Wars there was an increase of Greek migrants to Australia.
  • Post-war, Australia launched a mass immigration program to increase the country’s population.
  • Following World War II large numbers of immigrants, including many Greeks, migrated to Australia.
  • By the 1970’s there were an estimated 160,000 Greece-born people in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • Unlike some other nationalities, Greek born people rarely left Australia after they arrived. By the second generation, Greeks were in a wide variety of professions, trades and businesses.

History of Greece

  • Refer to History Resources section

Tips

  • Determine exactly where your care recipient was born and where they lived. For example; was your care recipient born in Australia, or did they migrate to Australia? If they migrated, how and why did your care recipient migrate to Australia? What experiences and associations do they have of their home country? If they have lived in other countries; where have they lived? How long did they spend in other countries and what did they do whilst they were there?
  • Be aware and sensitive to any stress that may have been experienced as a result of their history (this may include; family separation, homesickness, conflict, depression and isolation).
  • The knowledge of a person’s history may assist with a better understanding of the care recipient as well as any associated psychological issues resulting from their past.
  • Understand how your care recipient’s culture informs their values, behaviours, beliefs assumptions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities and document any significant details.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greece is defined as a “collectivist” culture.
  • This means that Greek people act primarily in the interests of the group (The Hofstede Centre).
  • Greece scores 35 on the Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV) index. (Hofstede centre).
  • The index scale ranges from 0-100 with 50 as a mid-level. The low numbers indicate “collectivist” cultures, and high numbers indicate “individualist” cultures.

Tips

  • Identify and document if your care recipient is an “individualist” with an “I” attitude of self and immediate family, or a “collectivist” with a “we” or group attitude, or if they have both “collectivist” and “individualist” traits.
  • Allow for a “collectivist” person to feel the comfort of doing most things in a group setting and for an “individualist” person to have more opportunities for themselves.

Resources

Generalist

In Greece

  • Greek Orthodox is the official religion of Greece, with 98% of the population affiliated with it. Other religious affiliations in Greece include Muslim (1.3%), as well as 0.7% of the population who have other religious affiliations (Central Intelligence Agency).

In Australia

  • Eastern Orthodoxy is the major religious affiliation of Greece-born Australians.
  • Older Greeks tend to have a stronger religious affiliation than younger generations.
  • Greek people tend to have religious icons (religious symbols) in their homes that they hold sacred and pay great respect to for example by bowing (proskynesis).

In South Australia

  • A division exists within the Greek Orthodox Church - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia.
  • Many people feel strongly about their preference between the two. Ask them which one they align with, and document their choice of church and priest. Family is often a good source of information.

Religion and its role in dementia care

  • Greek individuals have varying needs in regards to religion and priests. For some people they will actively seek assistance from the priest and the church, whilst others may simply take solace in prayer and attending church.

General

  • Different cultures and religions have different expectations of care in regards to toileting, dressing and feeding.
  • Every culture and religion vary greatly in spiritual needs and this may impact on the acceptability of certain treatments and medications. Therefore, it is paramount to identify the care recipient’s religion and cultural background to appropriately address the supports and services required.
  • For further information, refer to Spiritual care resources.

Tips

  • Accept and respect that customs, religious and spiritual beliefs vary from one culture to another and that the beliefs of your care recipient may significantly differ to your own beliefs.
  • Utilise resources and attend training sessions to increase your own knowledge about different religious and spiritual beliefs.
  • It is useful to ask care recipients a range of questions such as; ‘what helps you cope in difficult times’ and ‘what is important to you’ to determine ways to enhance their care.
  • Be aware of the significance of spiritual needs to your care recipient. Identify and document their religious beliefs and spiritual needs such as; any special requirements regarding food, personal care, linguistic needs or religious impacts towards treatments and/or medication.
  • Identify and provide access to relevant religious literature, radio, TV, live stream services, DVDs and CDs.
  • Support care recipients to maintain religious networks and religious representation and facilitate outings to places of worship.
  • Acknowledge and observe days of religious significance to your care recipients in a culturally appropriate manner.

Resources

Generalist

  • The extended family is central to Greek culture and is the basis of their social structure.
  • Financial support and emotional support are provided within the family network. Family relationships may even carry over into business and it is not uncommon for family members to assist their relatives to find employment.
  • Greeks consider that the wrongdoing of a family member brings dishonour to the whole family.
  • Elderly Greeks generally have a high status within the family and are treated with great respect.
  • Elderly Greeks often also have an important role in caring for grandchildren.
  • Greeks traditionally provide in home care for their elderly. In more recent times, the demands of work and children means that caring ability may be decreased.
  • Elderly Greek people often have limited English. There are concerns that the second and third generations do not speak or only have limited Greek and therefore may not be able to assist parents or grandparents when language difficulties arise.

Tips

  • Be aware and sensitive to the fact that some people may have become separated from family for a range of reasons including; war, conflict, disaster or migration.
  • Families and friends from different cultures will have a different understanding of dementia and their expectation of care for their loved one may vary significantly.
  • Provide communication and information in accordance with their language and literacy level and facilitate all achievable care expectations.
  • Gain an understanding of the dynamics of your care recipient’s family and friends and engage with them whenever required/needed.
  • Ensure that roles in decision-making about care of the person with dementia have been clearly established and documented.
  • Research indicates that carers of people living with dementia experience greater strain and distress than carers of other people.
  • It is important to be sensitive to the feelings of shame and guilt that family members and friends may be experiencing.

“Family and friends” resources

  • A range of information to help support family and friends is available in the “Family and friends, resources” section below.
  • A range of health information helpsheets in Greek is available in the “Language and communication, resources” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

In Greece

  • The official language of Greece is Greek, spoken by 98% of the population. (Central Intelligence Agency).
  • The most common language spoken other than Greek is Macedonian, spoken by 1.8% of the population (Central Intelligence Agency).
  • English, German, French, Spanish and Italian are common languages learnt by Greeks.

In Australia

  • Greece-born Australians predominantly speak Greek, English and Macedonian at home. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • There are many elderly Greek people that cannot read well, even in their own language.
  • English language barriers exist with many elderly Greeks living in Australia and this can limit their understanding of services that are available.
  • Many Greeks rely heavily on language support from their family and/or from Greek speaking service providers.
  • Many Greek carers are elderly spouses who have issues with language and transport themselves.
  • Finding appropriate services from people that understand the Greek language and culture is a significant issue for many Greeks.

Tips

  • Being able to communicate effectively is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of the care recipient.
  • Be careful not to underestimate or assume the communication capacity of a person with dementia.
  • Ensure that the care recipient has participation in decisions that affect them.
  • The words you use when speaking to, and about, a person with dementia matters. It is important to always use positive and enabling language and to not use words that may cause offense.
  • Ensure the health care and personal care plans and reviews identify and support the linguistic needs of your care recipient and their family.  Be mindful that linguistic considerations should include the care recipients’ menu choices, food services, their religious and spiritual needs, and their ability to participate in activities. Determine what language(s) they are able to speak, read and write. Communicate with them and provide information according to their language preference and literacy level.
  • Identify and record and health issues such as poor hearing, poor eyesight, dehydration or problems with dentures to ensure there is no miscommunication with your care recipient.
  • Be aware that most people with dementia will revert back to their native tongue and/or other languages they have learnt.
  • Care recipients should always be given the choice to use professional translators and interpreters. Provide professional translators and interpreters to your care recipients and/or to their family whenever they request the need, when the care plan is developed, when the care plan is reviewed and at any time when “informed consent” is required.
  • Care recipients often prefer to communicate with a care worker from their own cultural background therefore the use of bilingual staff or volunteers should be always be considered and provided whenever possible. The care recipient should however be given this choice rather than it be assumed that this is their preference.
  • Provide visual aids, use gestures and physical prompts, and learn and use key words in the person’s own language to improve communication during routine care and other simple service interventions.
  • Ensure that communication is adapted to the care recipient’s level of dementia and understand the importance of allowing more time for those in later stages to understand and respond to you.
  • Support your care recipients' individual choices by providing access to media such as radio, TV, live stream services, DVDs, CDs and books in their preferred language.
  • All staff and volunteers should undertake training in cultural awareness, appropriate communication and the correct use of telephone and on-site interpreting services.

Language and Communication resources

  • Refer to the “Language and Communication, Resources” section below for a wide range of information (including communication cards, signage, health information in community languages, etc.)
  • Translating and Interpreter contact details and other relevant information is available in the "Links, Translating and Interpreting" section. 

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

Resources

Generalist

  • Elderly Greek people may prefer to be greeted with the use of their full title such as Mr or Mrs. Once familiarity has been established, reference simply to their first name may be preferred.
  • Greek people may refer to older family and friends as ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’ as a sign of respect.

Man greeting Man

  • A firm handshake with eye contact is usually the norm.
  • Good friends and family may hug and give a light pat on the back or shoulder. Some men may kiss on the cheek as well.

Women greeting Women

  • A light handshake is the norm for an initial meeting.
  • For women who know each other, a kiss on each cheek is common.

Man greeting Woman

  • A handshake sometime combined with a slight touch on the arm or elbow is the norm for initial greetings.
  • Those known to each other commonly kiss on each cheek when greeting.

Tips

  • Start building trust and rapport from the first time you meet your care recipient. Ensure you correctly pronounce their name. Smile and speak clearly. Be respectful and make sure the care recipient understands you.
  • Establish and document how your care recipient prefers to be greeted. Take into account; formality, titles, preferred name(s), any different greeting expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation, and the way(s) they like and dislike to be greeted. 
  • Understand that a person with severe dementia will think that each time they see you during the day is for the first time. Therefore ensure that you greet them in an appropriate, friendly and caring manner each time you meet.

Language and Communication resources

  • Translating and Interpreter contact details and other relevant information is available in the "Links, Translating and Interpreting" section. 

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greek people are warm and hospitable.
  • They tend to speak loudly and use lots of animation. It may appear as though they are angry, however this is not usually the case. They just use a great amount of emotion when speaking.

Tips

Care recipient

  • Identify the communication style of your care recipient.
  • Be aware that communication styles vary from one culture to another.
  • Realise that physical, sensory, psychological and social issues can impact on the ability to communicate effectively. Make a note of any that are relevant to your care recipient.

Care worker

  • To ensure that the care recipient can understand you avoid speaking too quickly or using slang, acronyms or jargon. Also try not to give too much information at one time.
  • Be aware not to use patronising speech or a demeaning tone as this can lead to a communication breakdown.
  • Remember than non-verbal communication such as body language is just as important as verbal communication. Ensure that your tone matches your body language to avoid miscommunication.
  • Be kind and caring in your communication with the care recipient. Remember the person with dementia has a lifetime of experiences and is a person with feelings, even though may have lost the capacity to think or behave like they used to.

Language and Communication resources

  • Translating and Interpreter contact details and other relevant information is available in the "Links, Translating and Interpreting" section. 

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

Resources

Generalist

  • Direct eye contact is the norm for Greeks.
  • Eye contact is seen as a sign of interest in the conversation and it is also considered a sign of respect.

Tips

  • Determine and document if the care recipient prefers direct or indirect eye contact and if there are any different expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation.

Resources

Generalist

  • Placing your thumb between the middle and index finger whilst making a fist is considered an extremely rude gesture.

Tips

  • Any gestures you use need to be respectful to the person with dementia.
  • Body language can provide important clues and increased understanding for both the carer and the care recipient. However many gestures have different meanings in different cultures therefore take care to ensure there is no miscommunication.
  • Document any gestures that the care recipient prefers to use or any gestures they find offensive.
  • Determine if the care recipient has expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation in relation to the use of touch. For example; if they find it appropriate/comforting for someone to hold their hand when they are upset or in pain.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greek people tend to stand fairly close when speaking. A little less than an arm’s length away is normal.
  • It may be considered rude to back away from someone whilst speaking.
  • When speaking with people not known to them the distance may be greater.
  • Touch is fairly common during conversation.
  • Public displays of affection are also commonplace between genders.

Tips

  • Determine and document how the care recipient feels about their personal space and if there are any different expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation.
  • Allow for a “collectivist” person (with a “we” or group attitude) to feel the comfort of doing most things in the space with others (group settings) and for an “individualist” person (with an “I” attitude of self and immediate family) to have opportunities to have personal space for themselves.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greek people are generally not punctual. Instead, they tend to practice flexibility with time.
  • More emphasis is placed on people and relationships than following strict schedules in social situations.
  • Within most business situations, punctuality is appreciated, however within social situations showing up late is quite common.

Tips

  • Determine and document how the care recipient and the family view “the concept of time”. For example; do they like to be punctual? Do they expect others to be punctual?
  • Ensure the care recipient's concept of time does not adversely impact on meal times, activities and other scheduled events.
  • Be mindful that shaming and blaming someone for being late can cause feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Instead, use positive communication. For example; you might ask “Would a different time would be more suitable”?

Resources

Generalist

Global Gender Gap Index 2016 rankings

  • Greece was ranked 92nd on a global index measuring gender equality out of 144 countries. (World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2016).

Marriage

  • Marriage is between heterosexual couples only.
  • Early or forced marriage has been reported within Roma communities and the Muslim community of Thrace. This can have negative consequences on the health of the female such as compromised health, education as well as early pregnancy and social isolation.

Inheritance

  • Equal inheritance rights exist for wives and daughters.

Rainbow Index

  • The Rainbow Index ranks all European countries on a scale between 0% - 100% in respect to human rights and full equality (Rainbow index).
  • Greece was ranked 15th with a score of 58.3% in 2016 (Rainbow index).

Tips

  • For many people with dementia the gender of the care workers is important, particularly in sensitive situations. Determine and document if they have any preferences, concerns or expectations regarding care provided by someone of a different gender.
  • Accept and respect that male-female roles in families may vary significantly among different cultures.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersexed (LGBTI) people with dementia

  • Don’t assume the gender preference of the person with dementia.
  • Recognise that even those that have children may not be completely heterosexual and understand that it could take some time for a care recipient to gain enough trust to share personal information about their gender preference.
  • Begin by evaluating yourself and any assumptions, phobias, biases or beliefs that you might hold internally.
  • Utilise resources and attend training sessions to increase your own knowledge about LGBTI people.
  • Understand the importance of your first and immediate reaction or response. Be aware of your own reactions - not only what you think, but also be aware of what you say and what body language you use.
  • Most LGBTI people have experienced rejection, stigma, discrimination and abuse and therefore have a fear of receiving inadequate treatment, being denied services or facing further discrimination or prejudice. It is vitally important to create a non-judgmental open and caring atmosphere free from discrimination. Confidentiality is also a vital aspect of care for LGBTI care recipients.
  • Be careful with the terminology you use to the care recipient and their partners.
  • Provide partners of LGBTI care recipients with the same respect and privileges that you would give to a spouse or relative.

Resources

Generalist

World Alzheimer’s Day

  • Alzheimer associations around the world unite for World Alzheimer’s Day on the 21st of September, to make a difference for people with dementia and their families and carers worldwide.

Dementia in Greece

  • The number of people with dementia in Greece is approximately 201,766 or 1.7% of the population (Alzheimer’s Europe, 2012).

Attitudes to Dementia

  • Understanding of dementia within the Greek community is limited.
  • Dementia translates to memory loss in English and may explain the general lack of understanding of the illness within the older Greek community.
  • Dementia is generally not openly discussed within the Greek community. A person with dementia may become socially isolated due to communication breakdown and a lack of understanding from others about how they should behave.
  • There is a perception that memory loss is a normal part of ageing.
  • Stigma exists around dementia and there is a fear of being negatively labelled.

Disability and Mental Illness

  • Strong stigma exists around disability and particularly around mental illness.
  • There may be a reluctance to seek access to mental health services due to a lack of understanding of mental illness and for fear of stigma.
  • Depression is often not understood as a mental illness by elderly Greek people.

Diagnosis and treatment of dementia

  • Greeks often attribute memory loss as being old age and therefore they do not always seek medical advice.
  • Diagnosis of dementia may be delayed until more pronounced symptoms appear such as wandering.
  • The diagnosis of dementia often causes distress for the person with dementia and their family.
  • Most Greek people follow their doctor’s advice and prescriptions for medication. Natural herbs and medicines may be taken in addition to western medications.

Tips

  • The amount of understanding and acceptance of dementia may vary significantly among different cultures, families and individuals. Determine the understanding of dementia of the care recipient and their family, if they accept dementia and if stigma is associated.
  • Provide information to the care recipient and their family according to their language preference and literacy level.
  • Ensure that people with dementia and their families are aware of dementia information and of support services available.

Dementia resources

  • A wide range of information is available in the Attitudes and understanding of dementia disability and illness, resources section below.
  • Contact details for Alzheimer’s Australia offices are available in the “Links, Alzheimer’s Australia offices” section of this app.

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greeks tend to seek out doctors that understand their language and culture and speaking care workers are also preferred. 

Attitudes towards residential care

  • Residential care is usually seen as a last resort by Greeks.
  • However, attitudes towards residential care may vary across generations, and some community members may feel comfortable placing family members in care if they are satisfied with the quality of care.
  • Spouses are generally the main carers, along with support from their family.
  • There is generally resistance for placement in residential care, with the preference to die at home.
  • Placement of the person with dementia in residential care may take place if one’s spouse becomes ill or dies.

Attitudes towards community care

  • Elderly Greek people often heavily rely on their family for assistance.
  • There may be some reluctance to use external service providers, however there is a growing acceptance of services to enable people to stay in their homes for as long as possible.

Tips

  • The meaning or value of residential or community care may vary greatly among cultures.
  • Be aware that many people will not want to hear about or talk about residential care until crisis point.
  • Understand that families and friends from different cultures will have different expectations for the care of people, particularly in regards to toileting, dressing, feeding and other self-help skills.
  • Allow the care recipient and their family to make choices to suit the individual’s care needs.
  • Ask care recipients questions about what can be done to achieve quality of life and help them have meaningful lives that enable them to pursue their cultural interests and passions in accordance with any frailty, disability or cognitive impairment.
  • Understand and facilitate all achievable care expectations of the care recipient and their family.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greek people are often quite expressive and they generally openly communicate their emotions.
  • Pain behaviour studies suggest there is a need to be cautious of ethnic or cultural stereotypes. Therefore, even though there are findings of general cultural differences it is considered very important to evaluate the pain of each person individually.
  • Clinical recommendations regarding pain treatment are available in the “Attitudes to pain Resources” section of this app.

Tips

  • Research indicates that pain and discomfort are frequently under reported and under treated amongst people with dementia.
  • Ensure care recipients and their family understand pain relief medication and treatment options by providing information in their preferred language and in accordance with their language ability.
  • Religion and culture may influence your care recipients pain experience including; their pain expression, pain language, remedies for pain, social roles and expectations and perceptions of the medical care system.
  • Understand that for some religious or spiritual beliefs, fate and/or karma may mean that your care recipient also believes their illness and pain are caused by a higher power.
  • Care recipients may feel it is important to accept their pain in order to demonstrate their religious / spiritual faith. This may also impact their request for pain medication and treatment.
  • Identify and support the cultural and religious impact on the acceptability of certain treatments and medications.
  • Identify, respect and document how your care recipient and their family view and express pain.
  • Pay particular attention to verbal expressions of pain during later stages of dementia and ensure adequate treatment is provided.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greeks may avoid telling an ill person that they are dying.
  • A priest will read the rites to a person of Orthodox faith approaching their end of life and give them a final communion.
  • Following an Orthodox Greek person’s death, there will be an open casket allowing family and friends to pay their last respects. Mourners traditionally wear black.
  • Cremation is forbidden in the Orthodox faith.
  • During the burial, mourners will throw earth or shredded flowers on the coffin and the priest will break a ceramic pot (to signify the end of life) and will pour virgin oil on the coffin.
  • Following burial, the family gathers for a meal with close family and friends.
  • Traditionally black is worn by close family members for the first year following the death. Friends and more distant relatives traditionally wear black for forty days also.
  • A memorial service may be held to pray for the soul of the deceased forty days after the death of the person and may continue to be held periodically.
  • As a sign of respect, icons and mirrors in the home may be covered for the first few days following the persons’ death.
  • It is also customary following a death for a ‘kandili’ (a religious burner comprising oil, water and a floating wick) to remain lit for forty days next to a religious icon and a photo of the deceased.
  • A sound understanding of the dying patient’s meaning of end of life care is imperative to truly deliver individualised palliative care.

Tips

  • Understand that attitudes to end of life care, death and dying are diverse and may include a range of factors such as cultural and religious beliefs.
  • Be aware that the acceptance of certain treatments and medications are likely to be impacted upon by cultural and religious factors.
  • Identify and support “end of life choices” of care recipients and their family. Note: these are formally known as “Advanced Care Directives” or “Advanced Care Planning” depending on the state or territory in Australia that you are in. Ensure their choices are documented and strictly followed.
  • Ensure the linguistic needs of care recipients are addressed in end of life religious and spiritual support.
  • Ensure family members have access to appropriate resources and support in their preferred language and in accordance with their language ability.

Resources

Generalist

  • Asking personal questions is not considered rude by Greek people. Instead, it is an attempt to get to know someone personally.

Tips

  • “Manners” and “taboo” expectations and beliefs may vary greatly among cultures resulting in differing emotions and behaviours in your care recipient.
  • Be aware of your own beliefs and expectations of “manners” and “taboo” beliefs and how these may differ to those of your care recipient.
  • Be aware of judging other people's behaviour, expectations and beliefs according to the standards of your own culture.
  • Be aware that the care recipient may judge your behaviour according to the standard of their own culture.
  • It is important to recognise, accept and document individual interpretations of “manners” and “taboo” expectations and beliefs of your care recipient and their family.

Resources

Generalist

  • Greek superstitions generally originate from religion and they vary across regions in Greece.

Common superstitions include:

The Evil Eye (Mati)

  • There is the belief amongst some Greeks (especially in villages) that people can be afflicted with the evil eye (or matiasma) from someone else’s jealous compliment or envy.
  • It is said that the person who is afflicted with the evil eye may feel physically or psychologically bad.
  • To release the person from the effects of the evil eye, an expert in ‘xematiasma’ must say a special prayer.
  • To avoid the “matiasma”, some people wear a charm of a little blue bead with an eye painted on it.

Spitting

  • Some Greek people believe that spitting (usually three times) chases the devil and misfortune away.
  • Others may spit three times and say ‘ftou, ftou, ftou.’
  • In the event that someone compliments another person’s beauty, they may follow by spitting three times on the person complimented so that they are not afflicted with the evil eye.

Hobgoblins

  • A Greek folk tradition, Hobgoblins (known as ‘kallikantzari’ in Greek) are short ugly, creatures that live underground for the majority of the year.
  • During the twelve days of Christmas (25 December to 6 January) it is believed that hobgoblins surface and tease people with pranks.
  • Traditionally, village priests would visit houses on Epiphany Day (6 January) and sprinkle the rooms with blessed water to return the creatures to the underground.

Tuesday the 13th

  • In Greece, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky, unlike in western communities where Friday the 13th is believed to be unlucky.

Piase Kokkino

  • Greek people will often say ‘piase kokkino’ (touch red) if they say the same thing at the same time. They will immediately try and find something red to touch around them.
  • This arises from the belief that that when two people say the same thing they will get into a fight or an argument.

Tips

  • Superstitions may be considered as old wives’ tales, family traditions or have a significant meaning and be taken seriously.
  • Be aware of your own beliefs and how these may differ to those of your care recipient.
  • Be aware of judging other people's superstitious beliefs according to the standards of your own culture.
  • Be aware that the care recipient may judge your beliefs according to the standard of their own culture.
  • It is important to recognise, accept and document individual interpretations of superstitious beliefs.

Resources

Generalist

Popular Greek dishes include:

  • Lamb (the main meat served on festive days)
  • Mousaka - a dish made of eggplant, minced meat with béchamel sauce
  • Spanakopita – a pie dish made of spinach and cheese
  • Souvlaki - grilled meat in pita bread
  • Stuffed tomatoes
  • Pickled octopus with lemon juice and olive oil
  • Grilled seafood
  • Tzatziki - a cucumber and yoghurt dip
  • Greek salad (known as “horiatiki salata”) - including cucumber, tomatoes, onion, feta cheese and olives
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Baklava - a dessert made from layers of pastry, nuts and honey syrup
  • Popular Greek alcoholic drinks include retsina (a wine), ouzo and raki (aniseed flavoured spirits), and tsipouro (a brandy).

Everyday meals

  • Meats are usually marinated and then grilled and baked.
  • Chicken is often broiled or braised.
  • Meats are usually served with vegetables. These are often accompanied with a lemon sauce or a cinnamon-spiced tomato sauce.

Fasting

  • It is important to determine if a person is fasting as it is necessary that particular foods are only eaten during this time.
  • Many Greek people fast during Easter and Christmas.
  • It is also common for Greeks to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year.

The four main fasting periods are:

  • Lent (The Great Fast) which begins on a Monday, seven weeks before Easter.
  • Fast of the Apostles, which begins on a Monday, eight days after Pentecost and ends on 28th June (the eve of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul) – note this fast may vary from one to six weeks.
  • Fast of the Repose of the Virgin Mary begins on 1st August and ends on 14th August.
  • Christmas Fast begins on the 15th of November and ends 24th December.

Dining etiquette

  • Greek people tend to treat guests like royalty.
  • It is still considered punctual to arrive up to 30 minutes late.
  • To show respect to the host, dress well and offer to help clear up after a meal. Although your offer may not be accepted it will be appreciated by the host.
  • Compliment the hosts’ house.

Table manners

  • Wait to be directed where to sit and wait until invited to sit down.
  • Generally the oldest person is served their meal first.
  • Wait until the host begins eating before starting the meal.
  • Keep elbows off the table and hands above the table.
  • It is considered a compliment to the host to accept a second helping of food.
  • Plenty of discussion usually takes place at mealtime.
  • Food is often shared from a person’s plate.
  • It is polite to eat everything on your plate.
  • Once finished a meal, place the knife and fork parallel on the plate with the handles facing to the right and the napkin next to the plate.
  • The host will generally give the first toast, and later during the meal the guest should return the toast.
  • Common toasts include “to your health” which is “stinygiasou” for informal settings and “eis igían sas" at formal settings.

Tips

  • Food is an important aspect of cultural identity, therefore it is important to identify food preferences, likes and dislikes including eating habits, meal times, preferred setting, preferred eating utensils etc.
  • Identify and facilitate cultural food when possible and ensure the impact of religion on food services is documented, adhered to and regularly reviewed.
  • Provide menu choices and food services information in the preferred language of care recipients, or with pictures if the person has difficulty reading. 
  • Consider alternative ways to facilitate culturally appropriate food such as; obtaining recipes from family/friends, specific meal delivery services, community groups, seniors’ clubs, or and/or other clubs.
  • Ensure that the care recipient is given food choices throughout all stages of dementia.

Food and diet resources

  • A wide range of information (including religious food requirements, nutrition information and recipes) is available in the “Food and diet resources” section below.

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799

 

Resources

Generalist

  • A person-centred care approach helps organisations provide accessible, responsive and flexible services that meet the diverse needs and preferences of people living with dementia in our community. 
  • Many people with dementia want to remain independent for as long as possible and rely on the community care system to help them achieve this.

Additional care considerations for Greek people

  • Decision making for care of the elderly strongly involves family, relatives and friends.
  • It is considered more acceptable for elderly Greek people to be placed into residential care where the staff are Greek, as they are familiar with the language and cultural background.

Treatments

  • Some Greeks may use remedies and/or practice cupping (a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin).
  • Practices such as cupping may result in bruises or marks on the body. It is important not to mistake marks caused by this practice as a sign of abuse.
  • Many older Greeks people use methylated spirits as a remedy by rubbing it on their arms and legs when they are tired or sore.

Tips

  • Identify and document the care needs of your care recipient and continuously re-evaluate how their dementia progression affects their care needs.
  • Make every effort to understand a dementia behaviour before attempting to manage it, as you will often discover that what lies behind it is a genuine attempt to communicate an unmet need.  

Care information resources

  • A wide range of information is available (e.g. personal hygiene, sleeping, incontinence etc.) in the “Care information, resources” below.
  • Advice and Support - Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.
  • Employee/employer resources - A range of information is available under “Links – Other useful weblinks”.

Resources

Generalist

  • Family is the foundation of Greek society and family honour is an essential cultural value.
  • Marriage is an important institution for Greek people.
  • Many Greeks, particularly the elderly, wear black when mourning the loss of a loved one.
  • Good rapport and personal relationships are necessary for trust of service workers and confidentiality is also considered to be very important.
  • Greeks usually like to socialise and prefer being in the company of others, rather than being alone.
  • Tradition and religious practices are central to Greek lifestyle.
  • Traditionally, the social structure within Greek society is patriarchal with the most senior male having primary power.

Tips

  • Everyone has “culture”. This includes a number of factors such as ethnicity, identity, age, gender, education, sexual orientation, ability/disability, values, beliefs, attitudes etc.
  • Recognise your own cultural traits and influences and be mindful not to judge other people’s behaviour and beliefs according to the standard of your own culture.
  • Be aware that your care recipient may judge your behaviour and beliefs according to the standard of their own culture.
  • Your care recipient may be “similar to others” but “no two people are the same” so take care not to generalise or make assumptions about them. Gain general cultural information from resources to assist with conversations to allow you to identify your care recipient’s individual cultural traits.
  • Understand and document how your care recipient’s individual cultural traits impact their care needs.
  • Increase your knowledge about different cultural practices and issues through resources, cultural background information sessions and/or cultural awareness training.

Cultural Traits resources

  • Find information (such as guides and cultural profiles created by other organisations) in the “Cultural Traits, resources” section below.
  • You will also find information including; links to community contacts, cultural profiles, useful weblinks etc. in the “Links” section of the app.

Resources

Generalist

  • Easter is celebrated by Greeks.
  • Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter Sunday based on the date set by the Julian calendar and the date of Easter varies each year depending on the spring equinox.
  • Easter Sunday falls on the Sunday which follows the first full moon after the spring equinox.
  • Easter is considered as a festive, joyous event and is one of the holiest times of the year (particularly Good Friday).
  • Many devout Orthodox Christians will fast for forty days. This fast will include abstaining from animal products or food with oil. It is necessary that particular foods are only eaten during this time.
  • The week of Easter Sunday (Holy Week) includes many traditions. For example; baking biscuits (koulouria) and sweet breads (tsourekia); and preparing offal soup (mayeritsa) amongst other traditional dishes.
  • Many Greeks attend Holy Confession while they are fasting.
  • A Resurrection Mass is held at midnight before Easter Sunday. Coloured eggs are cracked to represent Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. Following the service families gather to break their fast with a special meal.
  • Later on Easter Sunday a traditional meal is shared and this often includes a lamb on a spit. 
  • “Kalo Pascha” is Happy Easer in Greek. Other greetings commonly used include; “Hristos Anesti” (Christ has Risen) with the response “Alithos Anesti” (Truly He has Risen).

Tips

  • Understand the importance of Easter to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about Easter are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

  • Christmas is celebrated by Greeks.
  • Celebrations commence on 25 December. However, it is a Greek tradition to exchange gifts after midnight on January 1st (New Year’s Eve) rather than Christmas morning. The Christmas period ends on the 6 January.
  • Christmas carols are traditionally sung just prior to Christmas day, usually by groups of children door knocking from house to house. It is generally customary for the children to receive gifts of lollies, chocolates and drinks as thanks for their carol singing.
  • Christmas is a holiday celebration that is spent with family and friends.
  • “καλά Χριστούγεννα,” or “kalá Christoúgenna” is Merry Christmas in Greek.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of Christmas to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about Christmas are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

  • New Year is celebrated by Greeks.
  • Celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve, 31st of December, the last day of the Gregorian calendar and continue until New Year’s Day.
  • Most Greeks celebrate New Year’s Eve with musical entertainment and fireworks.
  • New Year’s Day also includes the celebration of the Feast of Saint Basil, a forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • It is traditional for children to receive gifts of money on New Year’s Day and it is common for Greeks to participate in games of chance such as cards and dice games.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of New Year to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about New Year are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

  • 1 January - St Basil’s Day

1 January celebrates the life of St Basil, an important leader of the early church.

  • 6 January - Epiphany

6 January marks two important events in Jesus Christ’s life including; when the three wise men visited Jesus as an infant, and when Jesus was baptised by St John the Baptist.

  • Carnival

In Greece, ‘Apokries’ is a festival that consists of a two week feast. This begins on Sunday Meat Fare and ends with the first day of Lent (known as Clean Monday or Kathari Deutera). The festival includes costumes, confetti and celebrations in the street.

  • 25 March - Greek Independence Day

Celebrates the declaration of the Independence War on 25 March 1821. As well as a national celebration, the day is a religious celebration that marks when the Virgin Mary was told of her conception of Christ.

  • 28 October - The Ochi Day

Celebrates when Greek dictator Metaxas stopped Italians invading Greece in World War II. Many Greek people put a Greek flag on their windows or balconies and a parade is held in the street.

  • Saint Days or Name Days

Greek people are traditionally named after a saint. On the feast day of the saint that a person is named after, it is tradition that they attend Mass. Whilst birthdays are now usually celebrated, saint days or name days continue to have significance (especially for older Greek people).

Tips

  • Understand the importance of any significant days to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about special days are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

Common activities enjoyed by Greeks include:

  • Backgammon (such as Tavli), cards, and board games - usually played with a cup of coffee.
  • Komboloi (worry beads) to fiddle with throughout the day.
  • Gardening - many Greek people take great pride in their gardens.
  • Crocheting, knitting and tapestry may be an interest of older Greek women.Many Greek-speaking people enjoy watching Greek TV and Greek movies, particularly old Greek movies.
  • Greek people may also enjoy reading Greek newspapers such as Neos Kosmos and To Vema (which can be sourced from selected newsagencies and/or from libraries).

Reminiscence                                                                                                                                                                  

  • Smell or taste - Using smell kits, different cultural foods. Suggestions include; mint, parsley, oregano, lemon, Greek basil, dill, garlic, Greek coffee, cinnamon, clove.                                                                                                       
  • Sight - Cultural photographs, slides, films, painting pictures, looking at objects. (Refer to the “Cultural activities resource” section for some visual ideas). 
  • Touch - Touching cultural objects, feeling textures, painting and pottery. Pampering, massage hands, etc. if it is considered culturally appropriate by the care recipient and they trust you to do this without being intrusive.                                                                                       
  • Sound - Personalised playlists, listening to familiar tunes from the radio, C.D's, YouTube, listening to cultural performances, or making music using various instruments. (Refer to the “Music resources” section for some music ideas).                                                                                                                                                           

Tips

  • It is important to understand your care recipient’s activity likes and dislikes and their personal history to plan appropriate activities for them.
  • Your care recipient should be provided with a choice of activities to participate in.
  • Participating in suitable activities can help a person with dementia to achieve purpose and pleasure, help to improve their mood, responses, memory function, increase social interaction, sleep, improve verbal and non-verbal communication and restore a sense of identity. Activities also play a significant part in increasing the person’s wellbeing and confidence which will decrease responsive behaviours or ill-being.
  • It is important that activities are suitable to the level of ability of the person with dementia. People with dementia should be encouraged to participate as independently as possible and be given the choice to participate or to watch others.
  •  Always talk to the person’s doctor before starting them on a new exercise program and ensure the program designed for them takes into account their current health and ability.
  • Alzheimer’s Australia SA, local council libraries or community organisations may be able to loan suitable cultural activities such as music, games, videos etc.

Cultural activity resources

  • For cultural activity information and ideas refer to the “Cultural activities, resources” section below.
  • For local community contact details refer to the “Links, Community Contacts” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

  • Elderly Greek people will often recognise pop music from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
  • Some famous Greek artists that may be of interest to older Greek people include: Stelios Kazantzidis, Manolis Angelopoulos, Marinella, George Dalaras, Nana Mouskouri, Dimitri Mitropanos, Yiannis Parios, Haris Alexiou, Melina Mercouri, Glykeria to name a few.

Tips

  • Music is the most powerful universal language.
  • Music provides an external rhythm and can restore a person back to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.
  • People tend to remain contactable as musical beings on some level right up to the very end of life.
  • It is important to understand your care recipient’s music likes and dislikes and to provide them with their choice of music to listen to.
  • Create a personalised music playlist for your care recipient for their maximum benefit and enjoyment.
  • Provide opportunities for the person with dementia to watch live music performances.
  • Providing music a person relates to can have a wide range of benefits to the care recipient. Benefits may include; helping to improve their mood, responses, memory function, increase social interaction, improve verbal and non-verbal communication and restore a sense of identity.

Resources