INTRODUCTION: In Aotearoa New Zealand, as elsewhere in the world, healthcare providers are seeking better ways to engage with increasingly ethnically and linguistically diverse communities. The use of cultural support workers (CSWs) to act as a bridge between services and such communities is proving to be an effective strategy for achieving this. For the social work profession, the advent of CSW roles presents both challenges and opportunities.
APPROACH: A review of literature outlines the challenge of delivering culturally responsive and appropriate services to migrant and refugee communities and describes the role played by CSWs to increase the cultural understanding of healthcare providers and improve health outcomes for these communities. The impact of such roles on health social work is explored and how current social work education prepares practitioners for practice in an increasingly multicultural society.
CONCLUSIONS: This article outlines the key issues that arise from the introduction of CSWs, the potential for collaboration and the opportunity that exists for health social work to refocus and redefine its role in the healthcare setting.