Approaching integration with intercultural sensitivity

6-day training curriculum for case managers


With the support from two professional trainers, one Syrian culture expert and one actor, the Dutch Includ-EU team were aiming for a highly interactive and engaging 6-day training curriculum for case managers at different municipalities within the Dutch region Hart van Brabant. Fortunately, all six training sessions were provided in-person over a sequence of weeks, in Tilburg.

Experienced trainers Mr. Salomon Haile (Nieuwlander) and Ms. Elize Smal (Pharos) worked with the Includ-EU focal points to interview a sample of case managers, identify training needs and develop the curriculum. Salomon led the first two sessions with a focus on intercultural communication. Communication is naturally key to the work of every case manager in the Hart van Brabant region. Case managers must build a trustworthy bond with each migrant beneficiary on their caseload to ensure open and respectful communication. Without the skills to communicate with individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, not only would the day-to-day work of case manager suffer, so too would the integration potential of each beneficiary. Accompanying Salomon was a cultural expert with a Syrian background who shared a deeper insight to the Syrian culture and behavioral norms. The Netherlands is home to a large population of people who fled Syria, so knowledge of this culture is important for Municipal case managers. An actor with a Sudanese background led interactive, and sometimes confrontational exercises with the participants – often simulating challenging situations that case managers were required to react to and discuss.

The third and fourth training days were led by Ms. Elize Smal, whose expertise straddles the two themes of health and integration. Through a range of case studies and exercises, Elize had participants solving challenges and applying their knowledge about Dutch integration policy – as well as providing advice to each other – on sensitive matters associated with (mental) health in migrant communities. Members of the Refugee Advisory Board (a committee of migrant representatives who work with Municipality Tilburg) attended these sessions to contribute a stronger migrant voice, and to join discussions with the case managers.

Sessions five and six took place as a combined session which brought together the expertise of Salomon and Elize for a full day of training on the topic of intercultural communication in healthcare.

Participants (case managers) enjoyed the interactive style of the six sessions, and also remarked how enriching it was to discuss case studies with each other and in-person, as it is not often that representatives of the different municipalities meet to discuss their work. As parting advice, the participants suggested that such a training take place at least once per year – obviously a good sign of how well the training was received!

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