Staff perceptions of competence in a multicultural nursing home in Norway.

Affiliation

NORCE - Norwegian Research Centre, Nygårdsgaten 112, 5008 Bergen, Norway. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Nursing homes throughout the Western world are seeing a steady increase in migrant workers. Although migrant staff members' multicultural background may be perceived and used by management as a resource in the workplace, studies indicate that the qualifications and competencies of these workers are often underestimated. Numerous studies have examined and theorized on the challenges related to workplace diversity and the deskilling of migrant workers. However, our knowledge of how competence may be conceptualized in inclusive ways in diverse staff groups remains scarce. This study examines minority and majority staff members' perceptions of competence in a strategically selected multicultural nursing home unit in Norway with 15-20 years of experience in recruiting and including minority staff members to various levels of the organization. We performed a thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 22 healthcare providers and found that in this nursing home unit, contrary to what has often been found in other organizations, competence was not primarily discussed as a matter of educational level or background, skin complexion or whether staff members spoke the majority language with a foreign accent. Rather, a competent care worker was perceived as a) having good professional knowledge on how to care for nursing home residents (regardless of the worker's educational level), b) either having the ability to speak well or working hard to improve one's skills in the majority language, c) exhibiting 'a genuine interest' in working in a nursing home despite the relatively harsh working conditions, and d) having the ability to prioritize to ensure that all tasks and duties were completed on each shift. Staff members' perceptions of competence were hence interrelated with educational, racial, linguistic and social dimensions, but in unexpected and transgressing ways, paving the way to ethnic equality among staff.

Keywords

Competence,Diversity management,Ethnic equality,Inclusion,Migrant care workers,Migration,Norway,Nursing homes,