At the centre of all these powerful forces is a unique individual with her own personality, needs, hopes and fears" (Russell-Roberts, 2005).
This article attempts to analyze one hospital encounter, in the perspective of cross-cultural sensitivity and the pertinent question 'have the patients or families of patients been harmed or disadvantaged'(NHS Code of Conduct); the positive features and the negative features experienced by the public and scope for improvement, if any.
D-Day Preparations: Aparajitha and Kedar are qualified engineers of Indian origin, married to each other and residing in in the suburbs of London. When Aparajitha became pregnant, she had regular check-ups to ensure that all was well. Both attended the parental education classes conducted by the local hospital and regularly followed the instructions given by the health-care persons; and duly had the findings recorded in the 'Detailed Care Record'. Aparajitha's parents arrived in there, well in advance of the expected date of delivery, to offer support and help.
Start of Labor pain & Hospitalization: When Aparajitha started experiencing labour pains, Kedar duly informed the hospital and made the necessary arrangements; he also informed his parents-in-law that he will arrive at the hospital, as early as possible, after discharging some emergency duties at his work place. Aparajitha arrived at the hospital escorted by her parents, and, the ready hospital staff immediately wheeled the patient into the labour department. The parents were asked to wait outside in the special lounge, where the doctor would update them. As time passed and labour progressed, Aparajitha's mother repeatedly expressed her desire to be with her daughter, to the medical staff. She was informed that Aparajitha's husband Kedar, had been informed and would be there to support in the labour. Aparajitha's mother was horrified at this answer; her father intervened that traditional Indian customs prohibited men witnessing child birth, (The cultural norms surrounding birth vary from culture to culture - communities of practice' in delivering care. RCN, 2005) and also, since the patient's husband was held back by official duties, requested the mother be allowed, to be with the patient. The hospital staff, hesitant initially, relented after due consultations with the patient, her husband and taking into consideration the advice of senior hospital management on cross-cultural sensibilities. (Russell-Robert's article in the Royal College Nursing U.K, significantly points to the need for a trans-cultural assessment by midwives). By this time, a few hours had passed though, since Kedar could not be reached immediately. Finally, however, Aparajitha gave birth to a 7 lb. female baby, with her mother at the bedside offering reassurance and soothing words. The delivery was perfectly normal and satisfactory.
Food and Water after delivery: The next point of contention, presented itself when the patient regained consciousness and was asked to eat. The nurse on duty noted that the patient was not given hospital food, instead given warmed food brought from home, along with warm water She discouraged anything that has not been prescribed by the hospital team, being given to the patient. She also noticed that, the patient was under slightly more pain than normal; and in consultation with