Culturally appropriate care

Page last updated: 29 January 2024
Organisations we regulate


Culturally appropriate care (also called 'culturally competent care') is sensitive to people's cultural identity or heritage. It means being alert and responsive to beliefs or conventions that might be determined by cultural heritage.

Cultural identity or heritage can cover a range of things. For example, it might be based on ethnicity, nationality or religion. Or it might be to do with the person's sexuality or gender identity. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have a particular culture. So do Deaf people who use British Sign Language.

How culturally appropriate care is relevant to the regulations and our key questions

The regulations culturally appropriate care is relevant to are:

It's also relevant to our key questions.


  • Recording and acting on cultural considerations about medicines.
  • Protecting people from discrimination and harassment over characteristics protected by the Equality Act.


  • Looking at people’s needs overall and protecting them from discrimination.
  • The service takes cultural, ethical and religious needs into account when planning meals and drinks. Cultural needs are reflected in how premises are decorated.
  • If someone lacks capacity for a particular decision, the service takes their cultural preferences into account when applying the Mental Capacity Act – for example, by consulting people that know them.


  • Staff support people in culturally sensitive ways. They recognise when people’s preferences are not being taken on board or properly respected.
  • Knowing and respecting people, and showing them compassion.
  • Making visitors feel welcome.


  • People, their families and carers are involved in developing their care plans. This includes identifying their needs on the grounds of equality characteristics and looking at how those needs are met. It also includes finding out about their choices and preferences. The plans are reviewed regularly.
  • Staff have the right learning and development to help them understand and meet these needs.
  • Helping people take part in activities that are culturally relevant to them.
  • In end of life care, people feel their needs relating to equality characteristics have been considered as part of the planning process. People's religious beliefs and preferences are respected.

Full list of equality characteristics

Characteristics protected under the Equality Act are:

  • age
  • disability
  • ethnicity and nationality
  • religion and belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity


  • The service has a positive culture that is person-centred, open, inclusive and empowering.
  • Leaders, managers and staff have a good understanding of equality, diversity and human rights.
  • Leaders, managers and staff encourage people to express views and concerns. They listen and act on them to help shape the service and culture.
  • The service promotes equality and diversity.
  • The service looks into any instances of workforce inequality and takes action. Staff feel they are treated equally. The service makes sure it hears the voices of all staff and acts on them to help shape the service and culture.

Key points about culturally appropriate care