+ 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

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Indian

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Generalist

  • Poland is located in the continent of Europe.
  • The capital, and the largest city of Poland, is Warsaw.
  • Poland shares land borders with seven countries; 1/ Belarus, 2/ Czech Republic, 3/ Germany, 4/ Lithuania, 5/ Russia, 6/ Slovakia and 7/ Ukraine.
  • Poland ranks as the 70th largest country and has a total land area if 304, 255 square kilometres (Central Intelligence Agency n.d.).
  • The population of Poland is 38,523,261 (Central Intelligence Agency, 2016).
  • The major ethnic groups of Poland include; Polish 96.9%, Silesian 1.1%, German 0.2%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 1.7% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).
  • Poland has a climate consisting of cold winters (including snow in the mountain regions) and warm and sometimes hot summers.

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 Polish Migration to Australia

  • The first Polish settler arrived in 1803 as a convict and later became a very successful wheat farmer in Tasmania.
  • Around a dozen Polish settled in Australia over the next forty years (mainly nobility and army officers).
  • In the 1850s, some Polish-born migrated to join the Australian gold rush to seek their fortune, along with the boom of migrants that arrived from other European countries.
  • The majority of Polish migrants living in Australia came as refugees following World War II. Most were well educated and found work as teachers, engineers, artists and businessmen.
  • Care workers should note that these Polish refugees experienced; incarceration and labour camps, the loss of family, friends and belongings and the loss of their homeland prior to their arrival in Australia and their previous traumatic life experiences can have significant implications for dementia care.
  • Many Polish migrated to Australia during the 1950s to reunite with family, and the population of the Polish-born in Australia steadily continued to grow until its peak in 1991.
  • It was estimated that 48,678 Polish-born people were living in Australia in 2011 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

History of Poland

  • Refer to History Resource

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

  • Poland is defined as being an “individualist” culture.
  • This means that Poland as a society tend to take care of immediate family and themselves.
  • Poland scores a 60 on the Individualism versus Collectivism Index (IDV) (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 Australia

  • Polish people in Australia are predominantly Catholic (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • Judaism was also recorded in the Census, as well as 9.6% Poland-born Australians who indicated that they do not have any religion and 3.5% that did not state a religion (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

In Poland

  • The major religious affiliations in Poland include; Catholic 87.2%, Orthodox 1.3%, and other 0.4% (Central Intelligence Agency, 2012).
  • Religion intertwines with Polish culture.
  • Rituals include; Holy Communion, Last Rites and funeral customs.

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

  • Family is important in Polish culture and the extended family has a significant role.
  • Some older people living in Australia may however not have extended family, due to migrating alone or just with their partner.
  • Many Polish people have an ‘inner circle’ and ‘outer circle’ of relationships. Family as well as close friends form part of the inner circle, whilst others make up the outer circle.
  • The ‘inner circle’ is the foundation of a person’s social and business network. People who are part of the inner circle can be sought for advice, assistance in finding employment or even help with finding somewhere to live. There is an etiquette of extending favours and networks to get things done.
  • Family is particularly important when caring for the terminally ill, and amongst the Polish community it is considered a moral obligation to provide as much care as possible.

Tips

  • Be aware and sensitive to the fact that some people may have become separated from family for a range of reasons including; Stolen Generations, 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 Polish is available in the “Language and communication, resources” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

In Australia

  • The main languages spoken by Polish-born Australians are Polish, English and German (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • The majority of Polish-born Australians (85.4%) who reported that they speak another language at home indicated that they speak English very well or well, whilst about 13.1% indicated that they do not speak English well or not at all (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011).
  • There also may be some Polish community members that speak Ukrainian or Russian.

In Poland

  • Polish is the official language of Poland.
  • The main languages spoken by Polish people in Poland includes Polish (96.9%), Silesian (1.1%), German (0.2%) and Ukrainian (0.17%) (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).
  • Polish is also the second largest numbers of speakers among Slavic languages after Russian.
  • Polish shares some vocabulary with the languages of neighbouring countries including; Slovak, Czech, Ukrainian and Belarusian.

Acceptable conversation topics

  • Home (including country, city and way of life)
  • Education and work experience
  • Stories and anecdotes that are humorous
  • Personal interests and hobbies

Taboo topics of conversation

  • Politics (unless brought up by a Polish person first)
  • Boasting about money and wealth
  • Religion overall (unless brought up by a Polish person first)

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

Man greeting Man

  • A firm but brief handshake whilst maintaining direct eye contact is the norm.
  • If the men are friends, a simple hello or nod is sufficient.
  • Good friends or family may lightly hug or pat each other on the back, or in some cases kiss on the cheek may be exchanged.

Woman greeting Woman

  • Casual first meetings generally involve a simple hello or a nod.
  • A handshake with direct eye contact is the norm in formal situations.
  • Good friends and family usually exchange light hugs and kisses on one or both cheeks.

Greetings between Men & Women

  • A handshake initiated by the woman is fairly common at first meetings.
  • Good friends and family usually exchange light hugs and kisses on one or both cheeks.

Meeting and Greeting general information

  • Polish people are generally reserved and courteous when greeting.
  • A good handshake with direct eye contact, along with a smile and the appropriate greeting for the time of day, is appreciated.
  • Hosts commonly introduce women first and then men in social gatherings.
  • Titles are important, especially when addressing older Polish-born people.
  • People should be addressed by their honorific title (such as Mr, Mrs, Dr etc.). In Polish ‘Pan’ is used for a man and ‘Pani’ for a woman followed by their surname.
  • Polish people are generally very expressive during conversation and may lean forward, stand or touch the listener’s arm to emphasise their point.
  • Gestures during conversation may also suggest that they want the attention or agreement of the listener.

Pronunciation of greetings in Polish

English Greeting              Polish                      Pronunciation
Hello                                    Cześć                       CHESH
Good Morning                    Dzień dobry              JEN DOBRY
Goodbye                            Dowidzenia               DAW VEE-DZEN-YA

Kissing Hand

  • As a sign of respect, some men may kiss a woman’s hand when saying hello (and it is appreciated for the woman to extend her hand first).
  • When kissing the woman’s hand, the man bends to the hand, instead of raising the woman’s hand to his face.
  • This old fashioned gesture (mainly reserved for older women and those of high status) is still popular in Poland.
  • Some Polish women accustomed to this tradition, may feel offended if men do not follow this old tradition.
  • A man kissing a woman’s hand is also common at the end of dance and is done as a ‘thank you for the dance’.

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

  • Polish people tend to have a direct communication style where they will say what they think.
  • They are also sensitive to what other people think, which helps them to determine what they say.
  • The level of a relationship helps to determine how direct someone can be, with more diplomacy used in the initial stages.
  • Many Polish like to get to know people as individuals and often judge others by their personal qualities.
  • In some situations, people may talk around a point for a while before speaking about it.
  • Older Polish people may have some reluctance in expressing their opinions.
  • Sarcasm is understood and used in communication and humour is used regularly in communication.
  • Honesty is valued and is the basis of building successful relationships.
  • Emotions are generally displayed freely. Therefore, verbal disagreement is not uncommon, and is generally not taken personally.

Volume during conversation

  • Polish people are very expressive and tend to be quite vocal during conversation. This should not be confused for anger or disagreement.

Meetings

  • Meetings usually start with some socialising and small talk to allow everybody to relax and make a good impression.

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 common and is generally expected and appreciated.
  • It may be considered disrespectful, a sign of disinterest or bad manners to avoid eye contact when speaking with a Polish person.

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

  • Polish people tend to be sensitive to body language and watch people carefully. Therefore, it is best to avoid overly demonstrative gestures or closed off body language with Polish care recipients.

Specific gestures

  • Thumbs up and thumbs down gestures are used in Poland to indicate that ‘all is well’ or ‘things are rotten.’
  • Tapping the forehead with the forefinger, or drawing circles on the forehead, suggests that someone is foolish.
  • Tapping the neck with one or two fingers, or tapping the side of an open palm indicates alcohol drinks. It can also mean that someone is inebriated.
  • Pulling the skin just below the lower eyelid is a gesture of disbelief.
  • Placing a thumb on the nose and wriggling the other fingers is a gesture of mockery.
  • “Kozakiewicz’s gesture” is an obscene gesture of disrespect that is made by thrusting up an arm in a fist whilst simultaneously striking the crook of that arm (bending point) with the side of your other hand. This gesture received its name because the Polish champion pole-vaulter Kozakiewicz used this towards the mocking audience at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
  • Poking the thumb between the index and middle fingers of a clenched fist is an old Polish gesture which indicates refusal or means “no,” “nothing” or “no way.”
  • The “OK” sign, made by joining the point of the thumb and forefinger, is not a gesture used in Poland.

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

  • For Polish people, about an arm’s length of personal space is the norm when in conversation with a stranger. The distance may be closer with good friends and family.
  • Men generally do not have close contact with other men when walking and talking.
  • Women may be seen holding hands, walking arm in arm or hugging.
  • Polish people generally stand very close to each other when waiting in a line.

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

  • Polish people are extremely punctual.
  • Strict punctuality is usually followed and in most situations and is considered rude to be late, especially for a business meeting or appointment.
  • Transport services in Poland generally run on time.
  • In social settings such as meeting friends, it may be acceptable to be 5-10 minutes late.

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

  • On a global index measuring gender equality out of 144 countries, Poland ranked 38th. (World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2016).

Marriage

  • The minimum age of marriage is 18 years for both men and women, although the court can grant permission to marry those that are 16 years.
  • Women traditionally held the homemaker role, however opportunities are available for both genders across all occupations.

Inheritance

  • Women and men have equal rights in inheritance.

Rainbow Europe Index

  • With a score of 18.3%, Poland ranked 36th in the 2016 Rainbow Index. Rainbow Europe ranks all 49 European countries on a scale between 0%, gross violations of human rights, discrimination, and 100% respect of human rights, full equality (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association, 2016).

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 Poland

  • It was estimated that there were 501,090 Polish (1.3% of the population) with dementia in 2012 (Alzheimer’s Europe).
  • There is a stigma surrounding dementia within the Polish community. People are often in denial about the condition and many fear the reactions of others.
  • Some people may still refer to dementia by the outdated term ‘sclerosis.’
  • Knowledge and understanding of dementia amongst the Polish community in Australia is limited, especially amongst younger people.
  • Polish people also tend to be stoic and proud, and admitting they have dementia may be seen as a loss of their independence.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is prevalent in the Polish community and may mask or exaggerate symptoms, particularly in the later stages of dementia, when people may have nightmares and flashbacks reliving past experiences.

Attitudes towards counselling

  • Generally, the Polish community prefer talking to family members or ethnic community workers than to counsellors.
  • In the event that a counsellor is needed or requested, there is usually a preference for someone that is Polish speaking.
  • Telephone counselling services with the use of Polish interpreters are sometimes seen as impersonal.

Communication of diagnosis/prognosis

  • There are variations of opinion.
  • Traditionally, family members were given the news of a diagnosis and they were often reluctant to tell the person with dementia in fear they ‘lose the will to live’.
  • Views may have changed more recently and many Polish people have a preference to know their condition.
  • Some may view their diagnosis as ‘punishment’.
  • Some may also turn to the church for support.

Attitudes to Disability and Mental Illness

  • Stigma surrounds mental illness and physical disabilities.
  • Polish people may be reluctant to visit clinics and therefore home visits are often preferred.

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

Attitudes towards community care

  • Family are the key support network for the elderly Polish community.
  • More recently external support services supplement family support, although Polish elderly are commonly reluctant to accept them initially.
  • Services provided through ethno-specific organisations with bilingual workers are generally preferred.
  • It is essential that care workers are carefully selected and matched.
  • The opposite gender of care worker is considered inappropriate in certain situations, and same gender workers are usually preferred.

Attitudes towards residential care

  • There is a cultural expectation within the Polish community that family will care for their family members.
  • It may be considered shameful to place family members into residential care.
  • Some people may perceive that people die quickly if placed into residential care as a result of loneliness, depression and a lack of communication.

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

  • Polish-born people generally express pain openly, however there may be times when they display stoicism and ‘suffer’ in silence.
  • Mainstream medical treatments are well accepted and may sometimes be used in conjunction with herbal and homeopathic remedies.
  • Polish people tend to have faith in health professionals and do not generally question their management and advice.
  • 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

  • Most Polish people have a strong Catholic faith which guides their end of life care.
  • Some words associated with end of life such as; ‘death,’ ‘dying’ and ‘cancer’ are considered taboo by some Polish people. The word ‘hospice’ (Hospitziu) is accepted within the Polish community.
  • A sound understanding of the dying patient’s meaning of end of life care is imperative to truly deliver individualised palliative care.

Burial

  • Polish-born people often display their grief openly.
  • The Rosary service, as well as a church service and wake (known as ‘stipar’) are usually important rituals following a death.

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

  • Giving someone the (middle) finger is considered a rude gesture.
  • It is considered rude to stand close to someone in a restaurant who hasn’t finished their meal.
  • It may be frowned upon to stand with hands in pockets during conversation.
  • Burping is considered impolite.
  • Social indiscretions include; jaywalking, drinking alcohol in the street or public places and smoking in non-smoking areas. 

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

  • Some Polish people believe that a ghost is present if a picture falls off the wall.

Bad luck superstitions

  • Placing your handbag on the ground.
  • The number 13, and Friday the 13th is thought to be an especially unlucky day.
  • Doorways, specifically, to shake hands or to hug someone whilst in the doorway. It is thought that the friendship will be threatened if people stand either side of a doorway rather than on the same side. Some Polish people may say “not over the threshold” (Nie przez próg!) if you offer to shake hands over a doorway.
  • Breaking a mirror is said to bring you seven years bad luck.

Good luck

  • Lucky charms are common. Items that are said to bring good luck include; red underwear, horse shoes, four-leaf clover and elephants with a raised trunk.

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

Staples

Polish dietary staples include; wheat, rye, buckwheat and barley in the form of dark bread, noodles and dumplings.

Main meals

  • Polish meals often begin with soup, such as “borscht” which is a beetroot soup.
  • Pork is the most popular meat in Poland and is often covered in bread crumbs, fried and served with a thick sauce.
  • A meat stew called “bigos” is considered by some as the national dish of Poland.
  • Other meats such as; beef, ham and sausage are eaten regularly in a traditional Polish diet.
  • Poles also enjoy smoked and pickled fish such as herring.
  • Popular and well-known Polish dishes include; “golabki” (cabbage leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice) and “golonka” (ham served fresh with horseradish).
  • Vegetables that feature regularly in the Polish diet include; potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and cucumbers. Vegetables are generally eaten boiled (usually with meat, poultry or fish).
  • Sour cream is also used frequently with Polish food such as in salads with cucumber.

Desserts

  • Popular desserts include; cheesecake, sponge cake, poppy seed cake and “babka” a pound cake.
  • Cakes are baked, especially for feast days and weddings.

Beverages

  • Vodka is known as the national drink and popular beverages include, tea, coffee, buttermilk, fruit syrup and water.
  • Polish people tend to toast before or after a meal. If the host stands to toast, it is expected that others will too. The most common toast in Poland is “na zdrowie!”

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.

Role of the family in caring for someone with dementia

  • Shame is often associated with accepting support services as dementia is highly stigmatised in the Polish community.
  • The family is generally the greatest source of support and they are expected to care for the person with dementia at home, often despite their own health.
  • This can create extra stress and ill health of carers.
  • Females, particularly spouses, are generally the main carer.
  • Families often tend to be isolated from the community. This means that it is important to extend dementia services and supports in the home.

Key issues to consider

  • It is important to assist people to maintain their independence as much as possible.
  • Forward planning such as advanced care directives and wills are important issues that elderly Polish people may not have in place. Sensitivity should be used as Polish people may see this as a burden or an invasion of privacy. Prompting family to have discussions about these issues with their elderly relative may be helpful.
  • Polish elderly may have a persistent fear of authority and invasion of privacy due to past life experiences.

Health Beliefs and Practices

  • Health professionals are held in high regard and are generally given respect and authority by Polish people.
  • Alternative therapies such as herbal medicines may be used in conjunction with more mainstream medical treatments.
  • The Polish community may not actively adopt preventative health practices.

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

  • Catholic religion is one of the foundations of Polish culture.
  • The traditional Polish society has a male dominated social structure.
  • Polish culture values hard work and there is a saying “no work, no cake”.
  • Hospitality is another key part of Polish culture. There is a Polish saying that translates to “a guest in the house, God in the house”. Polish people offer great hospitality to guests, especially around Christmas and Easter celebrations where homemade feasts are prepared and shared with relatives and friends.
  • The value of democracy is considered precious, especially given the historical struggle for Polish freedom and self-determination.

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

  • The Polish celebrate Easter.
  • The date of Easter is set around the time of the March Equinox.
  • Easter is a festive Christian holiday in Poland and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Easter Sunday (Wielkanoc) and Easter Monday are public holidays in Poland.
  • Many people paint easter eggs (pisanki) which are taken to church to be blessed, usually in baskets, along with other food such as; bread, cake, salt, sausages, cheese and horseradish.
  • Easter eggs are symbolic of rebirth and life’s victory over death and bread is symbolic of the body of Jesus Christ.
  • Smoked meat is thought to give good health, wealth and fertility.
  • Salt is thought to ward off evil.
  • Cheese represents friendship and horseradish is symbolic of strength and fitness.
  • Polish homes celebrate with a family breakfast on Easter Sunday. The table is usually laid out with Easter eggs, flowers and an “Easter lamb” made of cake or sugar, as well as a spread of meals such as horseradish soup, sausages, boiled eggs and bacon.
  • The Easter Sunday breakfast is the end of the 40 day fast.
  • On Easter Monday (Smingus Dyngus) it is a tradition to pour water on friends and family as it is believed that those who get drenched are blessed with good fortune and cleansed of evil and illness.

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.
  • Polish people celebrate Christmas Eve (Wigilia) on 24 December.
  • Preceding Christmas, homes are cleaned and decorations are put on display.
  • Christmas trees are traditionally decorated with ornaments (usually made of glass or egg shells), lights or candles, and wrapped treats.
  • For many families, an even number of dishes are made and they contain no meat.
  • Traditional Polish dishes are made and eaten for a special dinner on Christmas Eve. Savoury dishes include; beetroot soup (barszcz), dumplings with stuffed mushrooms (uszka) a cabbage dish and fish.
  • Cakes, fruit and pastries are also commonly eaten.
  • Keeping with Polish hospitality, it is not uncommon for hosts to prepare an extra seat in the event of an unexpected guest.
  • Another Christmas custom is to break and give the Christmas wafer (oplatek) to guests.
  • Midnight masses (known as Pasterka) are held at church between December 24 and 25 and are attended by many Polish.

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.
  • Celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve, 31st of December and continue until New Year’s Day.
  • New Year’s Eve (Sylwester) or St Silvester’s Day is a time of celebration and includes events such as balls and parties, as well as the tradition of “kulig” (sleigh rides).
  • Polish people often celebrate New Year with local delicacies and traditional dishes such as “bigos” (a stew made with pork, sausages and sauerkraut).
  • New Year’s Day (Nowy Rok) is a public holiday in Poland.
  • As with many other places in the world, Poland celebrates New Year with fireworks displays at midnight.
  • A folk custom, is that one should bid farewell to old problems before the start of the New Year. To do this, one should write down all their worries on a piece of red paper and then burn it. It is thought that the “New Year’s flame” will then consume and rid all of the person’s problems.
  • It is also thought that debts and loans should be settled prior to New Year’s Eve.
  • Some Polish people believe that cleaning should not be done on New Year’s Eve as it may “sweep out” the happiness in the home.

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

8 March – Women’s Day

  • Celebrates the achievements of women.

3 May

  • Marks the constitution in 1794.

1 November – All Saints’ Day

  • Poles visit the graves of their loved ones on this day.

11 November – Independence Day

  • Marks the day in 1918 when Poland gained independence.

Polish Name Days

  • The Polish calendar includes a name of a Saint for each day. Poles over the age of thirteen celebrate their “name day” or “imieniny”. Family and friends wish their loved ones “Wyszstkiego Najlespszego” and give them gifts to celebrate.

Life’s milestone events

  • Events such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, first communion and confirmation are influenced by the Catholic religion. Usually, a special dedicated service in church is followed by a family and friends gathering to share a meal often followed by dancing.

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

  • Polish seniors, mainly enjoy watching TV, meeting with family members or listening to the radio.
  • Singing and dancing are enjoyed by some Polish.
  • Polish people are practically minded and may not wish to participate in activities just for the sake of killing time.
  • This may also apply to conversations, so they may omit to participating in introductory small talk.

Reminiscence     

  • Smell or taste - Using smell kits, different cultural foods. Suggestions include; marjoram, dill, peppermint, camomile, flowers (roses, violets) caraway seeds, apples and oranges.    
  • Sight - Cultural photographs, slides, cookbooks, 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

Traditional music

  • Polish folk music was oppressed or incorporated into state-approved ensembles.
  • The most famous ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk.

Famous composers

  • Poland has produced many popular composers including; Józef Elsner, Franciszek Lessel, Fryderyk Chopin, Władysław Zeleński, Karol Kurpiński and Stanisław Moniuszko.

Dance music

  • Famous Polish dance music includes; polonaise and mazurka.

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