+ 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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Generalist

  • South Korea is located in the continent of Asia.
  • Seoul is the capital of South Korea.
  • South Korea shares land borders with North Korea.
  • In 1948 South Korea gained sovereignty from Japan and became an independent state.
  • South Korea ranked the 109th largest country in the world with a total area of 99,720 square kilometres.
  • The population of South Korea is 50,942,172 people (Central Intelligence Agency 2016).
  • Koreans are homogenous, except for about 20,000 Chinese, therefore there are no other major ethnic groups.
  • The climate of South Korea is temperate with four seasons. Summers are generally hot and humid, winters are usually cold and dry, and autumn and spring are pleasant.

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

  • Korean migration to Australia is believed to have commenced as early as 1920 and it is thought they may have been the children of Australian Protestant missionaries who were working in Korea around 1885.
  • Small numbers of Koreans came to Australia between 1921 and 1941 for education.
  • After the war in 1953, some Korean women migrated to Australia as war brides and orphan children were adopted by Australian families.
  • Larger numbers of Koreans migrated to Australia in the late 1960s after Australian immigration restrictions were relaxed.
  • In 1969, the first Korean immigrants arrived under the Skilled Migration Program.
  • There was a six-fold increase in South Korean born people living in Australia between 1976 and 1986.
  • There have been further increases of South Korean-born people in Australia since 1986. Many arrived as students, and the main migration categories have been through the Skilled and Business visa categories.
  • In 2011, there was an estimated 74,538 Republic of (South) Korea-born people in Australia (Census).

History of Korea

  • 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

  • South Korea is defined as a collectivist culture.
  • This means that South Korean people act primarily in the interests of the group (Hofstede Centre).
  • South Korea scores 18 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 South Korea

  • The major religious affiliations are Christian (31.6%), which includes Protestant 24% and Catholic 7.6%, Buddhist (24.2%), none (43.3%) and small numbers of other or unknown religious affiliations (0.9%) (Central Intelligence Agency 2010).

In Australia

  • South Korea-born Australians are predominantly Christian (including Catholic, Presbyterian, Reformed and Uniting). Almost a quarter (24.3%) also indicated that they did not have a religion as well as a small number that did not state any religion (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011).

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 has a significant role and family is a key element of South Korean culture.
  •  It is believed that harmony at home promotes harmony in the wider community and in South Korea itself.
  • The welfare of the family takes priority over the welfare of an individual.
  • Family relationships are influenced by Confucianism. Specifically, there is emphasis on harmony and order within the system of familial roles for the husband, wife, son and daughter.
  • The father is considered the head of the family and as such it is considered his responsibility to provide food, clothing and shelter.
  • The oldest son has specific duties. Firstly to his parents, then to his brothers (oldest to youngest), his sons, then his wife and finally to his daughters.
  • Family relationships also include subordination and interdependence. For example, parents love their children and children respect their parents and are filially pious (follow the Confucian philosophy of filial piety which is the virtue of respect for elders).
  • Family history can often be traced back by male ancestors for over 500 years through genealogical records.
  • South Koreans prize large families and hundreds of years of intermarriage within the regions has helped to form large clans. This can be seen through family names such as Kim, Park, Lee, Kang and Cho.
  • People from different regions may have the same family name but they are not from the same clan.
  • It is custom that South Korean people do not marry within their own clan, even if they are distant cousins.
  • South Korean people take pride in their clans and many can recall their clan’s history.
  • Traditionally, South Korean women keep their own name upon marriage.

“Family and friends” resources

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

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 Korean are available in the “Language and communication, resources” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

In Australia

  • The main languages spoken by South Korean-born Australians at home are Korean, English and Mandarin.
  • Amongst the South Korean-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 65.1% spoke English well or very well, whilst 33.5% spoke English not well or not at all.

In South Korea

  • Korean is the official language in South Korea.
  • English is taught as a core subject at school.
  • Modern South Korea is inclusive of different dialects, however they are similar enough that they can be understood by each other.

General points about language and communication

  • Most South Koreans speak softly and prefer a moderate tone.
  • As a sign of respect, younger South Koreans avoid direct eye contact with the elderly.
  • Silent pauses are to be expected and are considered acceptable. It is best to avoid interrupting if possible.

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

South Korean greetings

  • Koreans generally appreciate and connect well with people that make an effort to attempt to say Korean words or phrases.
  • "Annyŏng haseyo?" pronounced “an-nyeong-ha-se-yo” translates to “how are you?” This greeting can be used any time of the day.
  • “Annyŏng” on its own can be used to address younger people.
  • “Kamsa hamnida” means “thank you”.
  • It is important to show good manners and respect to Koreans, particularly to those older than you, as age is one of the key elements that defines relationships in South Korean culture.
  • As a sign of respect, older adults should be greeted and spoken to first.
  • Adults should not be greeted by using their first name only, as this can make the person feel offended.
  • Personal questions including age, salary, education, religion and family life may be asked by South Koreans in an attempt for them to establish common ground. It can also help to establish status, which is an important element of South Korean culture.

Men greeting Men

  • Korean men for the first time will generally bow their head on arrival and departure.
  • It is considered a sign of respect for a younger person to bow lower than an older person.
  • Further meetings will usually involve a more casual, slow nod of the head.
  • When meeting a foreign man, a South Korean person is likely to give a light handshake and a small bow whilst maintaining eye contact.

Women meeting Women

  • A small bow is the norm.
  • Handshakes are not common.

Greetings between Men and Women

  • Generally a slight nod or bow is common.
  • Business situations often include a handshake.

There are some strict guidelines for greetings

  • South Koreans will often shake hands after a bow with foreigners as a way of incorporating both cultures.
  • The person with lower status (including those younger) will bow to the person of higher status. The person with the highest status initiates a handshake.
  • It is commonplace to say, "man-na-suh pan-gop-sumnida" when bowing. This means, “pleased to meet you”.
  • A person will often be given information about a person they will meet prior to the meeting.
  • Upon departing a meeting, bow to each person and say goodbye individually.

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

  • South Korean people tend to have an indirect communication style. For example, co-workers may compliment you on what they consider you are doing correctly, but not directly tell you something you should not do.
  • It is best to try to determine what the intended meaning is and to ask in a direct manner for clarification.
  • Miscommunication may arise, however it is against South Korean culture to be offensive in conversation, especially to a foreigner.
  • Terms such as “darling”, “sweetheart”, “love”, or “good girl/boy” can be considered condescending to Koreans. They should be avoided, especially when speaking to elderly people.

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

  • Indirect eye contact is traditionally favoured by South Koreans.
  • Younger generation Koreans may be comfortable with both direct eye contact and indirect eye contact.
  • Many Koreans consider it impolite to make eye contact, until they are comfortable with each other.
  • Direct eye contact is avoided when speaking to elders, as a sign of respect.
  • Eye contact may also be avoided between people of different gender and different social status.
  • Direct eye contact can be acceptable if it contributes to understanding during conversation.
  • It is considered impolite to stare, therefore South Koreans will avoid staring even in situations where it may be expected, such as a foreigner walking in a busy South Korean city full of only locals.

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

  • Common non-verbal gestures include a bow and a smile.
  • Physical contact beyond a handshake with strangers can make South Korean people very uncomfortable. For example, a hug or kiss on the cheek when greeting is not appropriate.
  • Friendly touch and hugging is reserved for family and friends.
  • Holding hands or the shoulder between friends of the same sex is common and generally not a sign of intimate partnership.
  • Physical contact as part of a physical examination or treatment is acceptable.
  • Many Koreans consider it extremely offensive to point at or touch the head of another person.
  • Spitting in public is acceptable in Korea as this behaviour is seen as cleaning yourself.

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

  • Due to the dense population in South Korea, it is common for personal space to be limited and pushing is also quite common.
  • Generally, people do not apologise for bumping into each other or for invading personal space, especially in big cities such as Seoul.
  • South Koreans generally prefer about an arm’s length of distance between each other during conversation. Greater distance may be appreciated when speaking with strangers.
  • Teenage friends of both genders are comfortable with closeness and it is common for them to walk arm-in-arm.
  • It is considered acceptable for a teacher to pat a student on their back or rest their hand on the students head.

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

  • South Korean people are known for being very punctual.
  • Schedules and deadlines are strictly adhered to.
  • Punctuality is expected and valued, even in social situations.
  • South Korean people will do everything possible to stick to their prior arrangements, even if these are only social activities.

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

  • There are distinct gender roles and responsibilities within the South Korean culture.
  • Mothers are responsible for children and the day to day running of the household.
  • Mothers, and often the daughter-in-law, have the responsibility for caring for elderly parents, especially in the instance of illness.
  • Recent changes to nuclear family living arrangements and women taking on roles in the workforce, has added extra pressure to also providing care for children and the elderly.

Global Gender Gap Index 2016 rankings

  • Korea (Rep) was ranked 116th on a global index measuring gender equality out of 144 countries. (World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2016).

Relationships

  • Traditionally, South Koreans believe that sexual relationships should be avoided until after marriage.
  • Also, public displays of affection should be limited to the privacy of the home.

Family

  • Fathers are the major financial providers and the key decision makers within the family.
  • Sons and daughters are raised with different values. For example, sons are brought up to be active and tough and taught not to show emotion, whereas daughters are raised to be passive and caring.
  • There are expectations for the careers of sons and daughters. South Korean parents often prefer for their sons to have a career in medicine, law or politics. Daughters are expected to be homemakers, teachers or nurses.
  • Confucian moral code suggests that once children are seven years old, boys and girls should not sit together unless they are relatives. Up until recent times, school students were segregated by gender. In adult professional or group settings this code is not heavily enforced.

Health professionals

  • South Korean people generally feel more comfortable with health professionals of the same gender, particularly if touching them is required as part of treatment. If this is not possible, it can be preferable to have a third party present so that they do not have the discomfort of a one-on-one experience.

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 South Korea

  • The aged population of South Korea is growing rapidly and is considered to be one of the fastest in the world. Specifically, it is predicted that by the year 2050, 17.9 million people or 37.6% of the population will be aged over 65 years.
  • Changes within society such as single person households and the need for women to take part in paid work means that less informal carers are available.
  • Dementia is becoming a major health issue within South Korea, and the demand for dementia services has grown.
  • The belief within some Asian cultures that suffering is part of life can contribute to the delay in seeking medical treatment.
  • Korean understanding of dementia and the attitude to the care of an older person with dementia have changed, greatly increasing the demand for services.

Concepts of Disability Within Korean Culture

  • South Korean culture can influence the belief of the cause of disability as well how they are treated.
  • It is the belief of some South Koreans that disability is a consequence of their or their ancestor’s sins.
  • Alternatively, others may believe that the person’s mother did something wrong during her pregnancy. For example, creating an imbalance of metaphysical forces (known as Ŭmyang in Korean), not eating the right foods, or even violating taboos.
  • Belief systems can impact upon treatment. For example, those who believe that disabilities are caused by the supernatural often feel helpless and do not seek help, instead leaving it to fate.
  • South Koreans with more medical knowledge may believe that certain conditions can be improved with appropriate medical assistance.
  • Herbal medicines, acupuncture and other natural remedies are relatively common in South Korea.
  • Many South Koreans use herbal medicines, acupuncture and other natural remedies.
  • It is also common for South Koreans using western medicine to also offer prayers and conduct religious rituals.

Attitudes Toward Disability

  • People with disabilities often feel isolated, especially given that South Koreans have strong social norms.
  • Those with disabilities may be avoided as others are unsure of how to have interactions.
  • People assisting others with disabilities may overcompensate, which can cause frustrations for those that they are trying to help.

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

  • In South Korea, specialist services for those that are old and frail are grouped into the elderly health examination service, dementia services and long-term care.
  • Until recently, most South Koreans considered it to be their familial responsibility to care for a parent with dementia and the culture of providing support for elderly family has stalled the development of residential care.
  • The concept of hospice and palliative care services are relatively new to South Koreans, however a greater understanding of dementia, and the attitudes towards care of an older person with dementia have changed, and the demand for services has increased.

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

  • South Koreans’ perception of pain is variable. Whilst some are stoic and reluctant to express their distress, there are others who are openly expressive of their discomfort.
  • Those with strong Buddhist beliefs may believe that displaying stoicism during the experience of pain demonstrates strong cultural values and self-conduct.
  • Asian cultures often focus on dignified manners and harmony within interactions with others and as such discourage drawing any attention to oneself including times of pain.
  • The hierarchical view, held by many Asian societies, means that health professionals are held in high regard and therefore some Asian patients will avoid making any complaints for this reason.
  • 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

End of life care

  • A traditional South Korean belief states that those who die alone will become “kaekkvi”, or a “wondering ghost”. Family members will try to have one member with their dying relatives to ensure that they are not alone.
  • Women were not traditionally allowed to witness the death of a male relative and vice versa for the death of a female relative, irrespective of their relationship to each other.
  • Upon the final stages of a person’s life, the family may gather to perform rituals known as “chojong” or the initial departing. This includes the preparations such as the dress and funeral arrangements. 
  • A sound understanding of the dying patient’s meaning of end of life care is imperative to truly deliver individualised palliative care.

After death

  • After death, Koreans traditionally weep deeply and express their grief. This is known as “kok”.
  • There are many other traditions surrounding death, although many of these are not commonly practised today. This includes specific rituals on how the body is dressed and prepared for burial, and what is done with the deceased person’s clothing.
  • Practices following death will vary and it is best to follow the lead and wishes of each individual. This also includes wishes regarding burial or cremation and organ donation.

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

  • Feet are considered dirty by many Koreans and accordingly they should not touch other people or objects, such as the furniture.
  • The soles of shoes should be pointing down so that they do not cause offence.
  • Women may cross their legs, with the soles of their shoes pointing downward.
  • Shoes should always be removed before entering a house or a place of worship.
  • It is considered rude to signal for someone to come over by gesturing with the index finger alone. Instead, the whole hand should be used with the palm facing down and the fingers moving up and down.
  • Another gesture that is considered very rude to many South Koreans, is placing the thumb between the middle and the index finger when making a fist.
  • Red ink should be avoided when signing documents or writing the name of others, as it is reserved for the deceased.
  • Generally, topics such as South and North Korean politics, socialism, communism and the Korean War should be avoided.
  • Eating and drinking whilst walking in public is considered rude and should also be avoided.

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

Superstitions that some South Koreans may believe include the following:

  • The number four is considered unlucky by many South Koreans. This originates from China where the Chinese believe that the number four sounds similar to “death”. There are elevators in South Korean that have an “F” for four instead of the number “4” as a result of this superstition.
  • Spinning ceiling fans in an enclosed space can be thought to suck out the oxygen of the room and lead to suffocation.
  • Whistling at night is believed by some to attract attention from supernatural beings such as spirits, ghosts and demons. Some people may also believe that it also makes snakes appear.
  • It is considered unlucky to shake your legs as this will shake off good luck and wealth.
  • Traditionally, the names of the dead were written in red ink. Some Koreans believe that if someone’s name is written in red ink, that person will die soon.
  • A mirror in front of a door is believed by some to deflect good luck from entering.
  • Some South Koreans believe that with the New Year comes a fresh start and you should not begin the year by washing your hair as that will wash away your luck.

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

  • South Korean culture believes in the importance of maintaining harmony. Specifically, the positive and negative energies of the universe should be balanced.
  • “Yin” (cold) represents negative energy, whilst “yang” represents positive energy.
  • Yin and yang should be balanced, otherwise harmony will be disrupted and it may result in conflict or disease.
  • If the care recipient is aged, they may refuse food and water out of politeness. You must repeatedly offer
    anything, generally around four times.

General South Korean food and diet information

  • South Korean meals usually always include rice, soup and various vegetable side dishes.
  • A very popular vegetable side dish which accompanies most meals is “Kimch’i”. This dish is made up of vegetables (such as cabbage, radish, cucumber and other leaves and roots) that are fermented.
  • South Koreans traditionally get their protein from bean products such as bean curd (known as tubu in Korean or tofu in Japan).
  • Lean meat, fish or poultry may also be served.
  • Hot tea is a popular drink. It may be prepared from boiled kernels of roasted barley or corn.
  • Cold tea is also popular in the summer months.
  • Certain foods may be eaten to remedy certain ailments. For example; hot soups made with garlic, ginger, onions and red peppers are eaten to remedy colds or flu as it is believed the help clear the sinuses.
  • Ginseng and other herbal medicines are taken as they are believed to increase energy.

Dining Etiquette

  • Punctuality is appreciated, however arriving up to 30 minutes late is acceptable.
  • Shoes are removed before entering the home.
  • Guests are greeted individually by the host and he will also pour a drink for the guests. The hostess does not usually pour drinks.
  • Guests are usually accompanied to their car because it is considered insulting to bid farewell inside.
  • It is polite to send a thank you note after being invited to dinner.

Table manners

  • Wait to be instructed where to sit as there may be a specific protocol.
  • The eldest person is usually served first and when they start eating, it is a sign that others can also begin their meal.
  • Chopsticks should not be pointed or used to pierce food.
  • It is best to pause and return chopsticks to the table after every few bites. They should not be crossed.
  • Food should not be picked up with your hands.
  • A toothpick should be used to spear fruit.
  • An extra plate should be used for bones and shells.
  • It is polite to try some of each dish.
  • Guests can enquire about a dish without the host taking offence.
  • The first offer of second helpings should be refused.
  • It is polite to finish everything on the plate. Keep this in mind when serving.
  • Placing chopsticks on the chopstick rest or table indicates that a meal is finished. They should not be placed parallel across the rice bowl.

 

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 Korean people

  • Guests to a South Korean home are often expected to remove their shoes before entering the home.
  • Health providers of the same gender are considered more appropriate, especially if intimate care is required.
  • Older Korean-speaking health providers may be preferred by South Koreans with more traditional beliefs.
  • Elderly patients may refuse food and water three times out of politeness. A further offer may be needed for them to accept.
  • High quality healthcare is available in South Korea and includes both western and traditional eastern medical practices.
  • Stigma is often still associated with disability, especially for older and more traditional South Koreans.

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

Korean Family and Ancestors

  • Family is the core of Korean culture.
  • Welfare of the family holds more importance than the needs of the individual.
  • South Korean’s also greatly respect their ancestors. Ancestors are based upon the male family line.
  • Children are brought up with the belief that they can never repay their debt to their parents.
  • Ancestral ceremonies are held for parents, grandparents and great grandparents and they take place multiple times a year, including during the harvest festival (known as “Chusok”) and New Year’s Day.

Confucianism

  • Korean Confucianism is a form of Confucianism that emerged and developed in Korea.
  • It is a belief and ethics system which includes the obligations to others depending on their relationship.
  • The basic beliefs of Confucianism are based upon five different relationships which are; 1/ the ruler and subject, 2/ husband and wife, 3/ parents and children, 4/ brothers and sisters, and 5/ friend and friend.
  • The belief system values and places emphasis on loyalty, honour, filial piety, respect for age and seniority and sincerity.

“Jeong”

  • “Jeong” is a concept that forms an important part of South Korean culture.
  • The concept is difficult to define, but can be considered love, although this is a very simplified explanation as Jeong also includes; affection, compassion, sympathy, community and attachment.

“Kibun”

  • “Kibun” does not translate into English, however it can be considered as including; the state of mind and terms such as pride, face, mood and feelings.
  • It is an important aspect of South Korean culture to maintain harmony within relationships with others. If you hurt someone’s kibun you can damage their pride, dignity and cause them to lose face.
  • The concept of Kibun influences all elements of Korean life.
  • It is extremely important to avoid hurting someone else’s kibun whilst at the same time, maintaining one’s own kibun.

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

  • South Koreans generally do not celebrate Easter, unless they are Christian (about 25-30% of the population).
  • There are no public holidays over the Easter period in South Korea.
  • Young children may be given a small gift during Easter time.

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

  • South Koreans generally do not celebrate Christmas unless they are Christian (about 25-30% of the population).
  • Christmas Day is however a National holiday in South Korea.
  • Christmas lights and decorations are common in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, as well as in major department stores.
  • Some South Korean families put up Christmas trees and exchange presents.

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

  • “Sŏllal” (New Year) national holiday celebrations in South Korea are held on the first day of the Korean lunar calendar, as well as the day before and the day after.
  • The exact day of the lunar New Year varies each year.
  • Many Koreans also celebrate the Gregorian calendar New Year’s Day on 1st January, however not to the same extent.
  • Sŏllal is a time when Korean families get together and give thanks to the year that has past, share food, perform ancient tea offering rituals, play traditional games and pay homage to their ancestors.
  • Festivities also include gift giving of items such as money, fruit, sweets and gift baskets.
  • Colourful traditional costumes called “hanbok” are worn by adults during the festivities.

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

  • Most of the South Korean holidays are based on the Gregorian calendar, although there are some which are based on the Lunar calendar.

Holidays on the Lunar calendar

  • New Year's Day (Sŏllal) – first day of the first month, plus the day before and after (refer to Special Days, New Year)
  • Buddha's Birthday (Sŏkka T'anshin–il) – eighth day of the fourth month. This is a carnival day in Korea when culture and tradition is celebrated.
  • Harvest Full Moon Festival (Ch'usok) – fifteenth day (full moon) of the eighth month, plus the day before and after Korean Thanksgiving Day. This festival is usually a three day public holiday when most Koreans visit family to prepare food, honor their ancestors, and cherish relatives both living and deceased.

Holidays on the Gregorian calendar

1 January – New Year Day (refer to Special Days, New Year)

1 March – Independence Movement Day (Samil–jol)

  • This Korean holiday is dedicated to the March 1st Movement that took place in 1919, while Korea was occupied by Japan. Flags are raised and the Declaration of Independence is read.

5 April – Arbor Day

  • This holiday encourages Koreans to plant and care for trees.

1 May – Labor Day

  • A day to celebrate workers.

5 May – Children's Day

  • A day when children are valued, entertained and taught national pride.

8 May - Parents' Day (not a public holiday)

  • An observance day that focuses on parents and often includes the giving carnations (flowers) to parents.

6 June – Memorial Day

  • This day is held to commemorate those who died while in military service during the Korean War or in other significant battles.

17 July  – Constitution Day

Koreans honour the first South Korean constitution that was declared on this day in 1948.

15 August – Liberation Day

  • This day celebrates when Korea was liberated from the Japanese.

3 October – Foundation Day (Gaechon–jol)

  • This holiday celebrates the creation of the state of Gojoseon.

25 December  – Christmas Day (refer to Special Days, Christmas)

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

  • Many Koreans like to play games such as chess, cards including “Hwatu”, a popular South Korean card game, singing, dancing and exercises such as walking and Tai Chi.

Reminiscence                                                                                                                                                      

  • Smell or taste - Using smell kits or different foods. Suggestions include: chilli, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, ginseng root.
  • Sight - Photographs, cookbooks, slides, films, Painting pictures, looking at objects. (Refer to the “Cultural activities resource” section for some visual ideas).          
  • Touch - Touching 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, CD'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

  • South Korean music includes “jeong-ak” (or court music) and “minsog-ak” (folk music).
  • Court music is delicate and can be likened to the phrase “nagiburyu, aeibulbi”, which means “happy but not too much excitement, sad but not too much grief”.

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