As a result of spending my time as a volunteer at a local Community Centre, I am conducting a report on how support is provided for individuals within the local community. The mentioned individuals in this report all have unique needs. The promotion of equality and diversity will also be discussed in this report, as well as discrimination and anti-discriminatory practices.
Equality, within health and social care, is when all service users are given equal rights, opportunities, and care when accessing the services that they need. The Equality Act 2010 specifies nine characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010, these characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Health and social care professionals can promote equality by taking other people’s beliefs into account, ensuring every service user obtains equal access to the services that they need, and by treating all colleagues and service users fairly. If equality is promoted, service users will be able to develop a trusted relationship between the professionals, be treated with a holistic approach and have a person-centred care plan, as well as receiving the necessary treatment or care.
The effects of equality can be shown through the satisfaction of the service users; good promotion of equality will interest service users from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, thus, encouraging a multicultural service and society. Service users will feel accepted by the service and professionals within; this will make the service users feel safe when accessing the service because they won’t be in fear of discrimination. Moreover, the service users will be less reluctant to visit the service if they need help; this will result in the service user acquiring the care and support that they need without their condition worsening.
Diversity plays a key role within the health and social care sector; diversity is when a service has a team of professionals, and service users that have different beliefs, religions and customs. To promote diversity within the workplace, the Labour Party recommended that quotas should be introduced; to ‘address the under-representation of women and people from ethnic minorities in the senior judiciary’ (Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC and Karon Monaghan QC). Although this was introduced to improve the diversity within the law, it is widely accepted as a way to ensure there is diversity within companies. A diversity quota ensures that services have a multicultural (the integration of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures) team and client base from within a multicultural society. In addition, the quota permits people that are protected by Equality Act’s characteristics a more legitimate chance on the career platforms.
The effects of diversity can be shown within multi-disciplinary teamwork; the team will be able to think creatively and solicit innovative ideas which will allow challenges to be approached from unique perspectives. Therefore, achieving a solution faster whilst evaluating all factors. In addition, there will be a more ethical understanding within the team; this will lead to personal prejudices being reduced and a more favourable working environment because the professionals involved will understand diverse cultures and their needs.
A competent, diverse service will be responsive to learning about people’s life experiences, value the diversity of the service and the multicultural society that it is located in, and form trusted relationships with colleagues and service users. Being part of a multicultural society can provide professionals with: learning opportunities, numerous ways to deliver social care and the ability to try and develop alternative treatment options. Complementary medicine is used as an alternative, or alongside, orthodox medical practice; aromatherapy, acupuncture and reflexology are examples of complementary medicine.
A lack of equality and diversity is a cause of discrimination, as well as people’s own personal prejudices. Discrimination is when a person, or group of people, are treated unfairly due to a difference between the discriminator and discriminated. Discrimination usually occurs when a personal prejudice gets in the way of treating somebody equally and with respect; a lack of understanding of varying characteristics is also a cause of discrimination.
The Equality Act 2010, mentioned previously, is legislation that promotes anti-discrimination and allows discrimination of any kind to be challenged within a civil court. (Source: https://www.cvtemplatemaster.com/careers-advice/discrimination-recruitment/) The Human Rights Act 1998 also aims to prevent discrimination throughout the United Kingdom by entitling all residents to privacy, education and freedom. The act guarantees each and every individual the right to life; freedom of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; freedom from slavery (including servitude, forced or compulsory labour); liberty and security of the person; respect for a private and family life (including home and correspondence); freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression; marry and found a family; peaceful enjoyment of possessions and protection of property and access to education. Although the Human Rights Act is in place, individuals still deprive people of the outlined rights above. For example, in 2007 Sophie Lancaster’s right to life was violated; a group of teenagers discriminated against her Gothic culture and violently beat her until she had no brain activity.
There are four different types of discrimination:
Unfair: Unfair discrimination is when a person is treated unequally compared with someone else. For example, two people equal in qualifications and experience, apply for a job, but the one candidate is not considered for the job because they are female. The company promoted the male candidate because he does not have potential to become pregnant and cost the company in maternity pay and maternity cover.
Direct: Direct discrimination is when a person is hostile, rude or offensive to another person because they perceive them to be different. Direct discrimination is easier to prove because it is usually heard or witnessed by others. For example, when the black community and white community were segregated on buses because of the black community who was seen as the lesser race.
Indirect: Indirect discrimination is when there is a policy, procedure or rule which places people of a protected characteristic at a disadvantage. Indirect discrimination is more complex to prove because it is not as obvious as direct discrimination. For example, a health service only accepts clients within a certain postcode; there is a nearby village that is just out of the catchment area for the service. The residents of the village are unable to access the nearby health service and must travel 14 miles to the next accessible service.
Positive: Positive discrimination is when a person is treated better than others, or a decision is made in a person’s favour because there is something different about them. For example, there is a vacancy in a well-paid, management position at a law firm; two women with equal experience apply for the position. The female, who is of Asian origin and lesbian, is favoured for the job and achieves the position because the company wanted a more diverse management team.
People are commonly discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, sexuality and age. Other characteristics that are discriminated against are: gender, social class, religious beliefs, family structure, ability, health, disability, location (where the person lives), culture and appearance.
Effects of discrimination could include:
Stress: A male employee is indirectly discriminated against at work after his manager finds out that he is gay; the manager dismisses him from any duties that involve interacting with customers. This makes the employee feel stressed because he feels like his manager believes he is incompetent; if the employee continues feeling stressed, he could develop a stress-induced mental illness. Depression could develop which may lead to feeling unable to work due to lack of motivation; going on sick leave for depression would reduce the employee’s income and restrict him from learning new skills. Additionally, he could become anxious which could result in him withdrawing from social activities; this could lead to the employee isolating himself.
Impact on waiting times for different groups: A rule at a GP Surgery is that elderly patients (over 65) and children (under 18) get priority when booking appointments; this is indirect age discrimination against people in young and middle adulthood. This could compel the economically active people to become reluctant when they need support or treatment for a medical condition. Not getting the essential care and support could result in their condition worsening, which could progress to a long-term illness.
Injury and death: Naomi Oni was a victim of an acid attack in London, 2013. Her attacker, Mary Konye, was a primary school friend that racially discriminated against people who had lighter skin than herself; this prejudice provoked her to inflict injury on Naomi. The attack left Naomi feeling unable to work because she was anxious someone else could discriminate against her. Due to the skin grafts and laser treatment needed to help her injuries heal, Naomi became increasingly self-conscience; this led to low self-esteem from her life-changing injuries and new appearance. In addition, Naomi would experience trust issues, difficulty forming new relationships and may live in fear of others because she was harmed by her childhood friend.
Living in fear of others: A teenage girl saw on TV that girls in her area were being abducted and sexually assaulted by a middle-aged man in a blue van; the man is reported to target schoolgirls that wear skirts, dresses and their hair in a ponytail. The girl fits the description of the schoolgirls who have been abducted and begins to change her appearance; this could lead to the girl losing the sense of whom she is because she is trying avoiding being discriminated against for her sex. Moreover, she could become frightened to express her individuality; this could contribute to the girl having low self-esteem and loss of confidence because she cannot be who she is, in fear of being assaulted.
Preventing Discrimination within Health and Social Care Services
Health and social care professionals should aim to prevent discrimination when carrying out their duties with, and around, service users. To prevent discrimination within services, there are four initiatives that are in place to aim to meet the needs of all service users.
Access: Services should be able to be accessed by everybody who needs care and support. Adaptions to the service can improve access for service users with mobility issues; for example, a ramp could be installed at the entrance of the service so that it is wheelchair accessible. In addition, a service which has departments on various floors could install a lift so that all departments are accessible to service users who are unable to walk long distances or upstairs.
Diet: Whether it be for medical reasons, religious requirements or cultural preferences, the service should provide meal options that do not put service users at risk of missing meals or being discriminated against. For example, a patient on a ward has coeliac disease and is on a strict gluten-free diet to help reduce their symptoms. A lunch menu is distributed around the ward which all contains wheat-based products; no meal options meet the patient’s dietary needs. The ward staff are unable to propose a gluten-free alternative, so the patient must consume one of the dishes and risk worsening their condition.
Support: All service users will have different support needs that must be met when accessing a service for their care. To provide information, resources throughout the facility should be available in various formats to ensure service users are aware of rules, policies and other essential details. For example, a service within a multicultural society will need having resources available in a variety of languages; this could include having signposts with multiple languages on or having a translator within the facility. In addition, letters to services users with visual impairments should be available in braille or large text as an easy-to-read option.
Advocacy Services: An advocate is a person who speaks on behalf of somebody who is unable to make rational decisions on their own; there are different types of advocates:
Peer Advocacy is when the advocate shares a similar experience to the person in need of an advocate. For example, a lady with a hearing impairment considers an advocate that has been a carer for people with hearing impairments for twenty years; the advocate attends all appointments with the service user to ensure she is not being discriminated against by the professionals.
Statutory Advocacy is when you are legally entitled to having an advocate if you are unable to self-advocate (voice your own opinions and discuss your needs). Statutory advocates could be Independent Mental Health Advocates(IMHAs), Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) and advocates that support people under the Care Act 2014.
The Care Sector Consortium developed a number of principles that should be followed by all health and social care professionals; the principles collectively made a value base of commitments for all professionals within the sector. Each of the outlined principles can be found in each code of practice for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), General Medical Council (GMC) and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC); the care value base includes anti-discriminatory practice, empowerment of individuals and maintaining confidentiality and privacy.
Anti-discriminatory practice is when care provided to service users fulfil all the needs of the service user and comply with the code of practice for all professionals, regardless of the protected characteristics (outlined in the Equality Act 2010). Anti-discriminatory practice is a primary principle that aims to guide professionals so that needs of service users are met, regardless of differences, and that prejudices of staff and of service users are challenged appropriately. Anti-discriminatory practice is more than ensuring a service user’s legal rights are in place; it also includes promoting equal opportunities and challenging discrimination.
Every service should have a Whistleblowing Policy; a Whistleblowing Policy allows an employee to safely report, without backlash, an incident of poor practice at their workplace to an organisation outside of their work setting to try and change the service. For example, when attending the community centre I witnessed a care assistant being verbally abusive to their client, who had learning difficulties and was obese. The care assistant was calling the client rude, offensive names and directly discriminating against them for their appearance and disability. I voiced my concern with the HCPC, who then contacted the care assistant and monitored their work performance quality.
Methods of Anti-Discriminatory Practice
Health and social care professionals must conform to certain methods of anti-discriminatory practice so that they are able to carry out their professional duties and fulfil the needs of the service users. These methods include:
Addressing personal prejudices adapting behaviour to make sure that service users have their needs met, regardless of differences, and so that prejudices do not cloud judgement.
Being able to understand and meet the individual needs of all service users. This includes people with physical and learning disabilities, people who are gay or who are unclear with their sexuality, people with communication issues, people from diverse cultures and ethic backgrounds, as well as people who belong to various religious groups.
Appreciate and celebrate what a multicultural society and client base can contribute to the service setting and to society.
Actively challenging direct and indirect forms of discrimination against service users, or by service users.
Ensuring that the service atmosphere is welcoming and is an accessible environment for all service users to use.
Compensating for the negative effects of discrimination within society.
Managing Challenging Behaviour
Lamentably, not all professionals or services follow the anti-discriminatory practice to its broad extent; this leads to conflict between service users and their carers. When this happens, challenging behaviour is more than likely to occur and put other service users within the facility at risk of being harmed. Challenging behaviour includes self-harm, having arguments with staff or service users, being aggressive towards others in the service and being difficult when being provided with care.
To manage challenging behaviour, health and social care professionals should: listen carefully to the distressed service user’s concern, stay calm and at no time raise their voice because this could escalate the situation, try to see both sides of the argument or issue by showing that they understand the service user’s perspective on the matter and under no circumstances resort to aggressive behaviour as this could put them or the service user, in unnecessary danger. However, if the situation proves to be escalating and may result in violence, the professionals should: guarantee that they know where the nearest exit is, make certain that there are no weapon-like objects surrounding the service user, do not stand too close to the irate individual(s) to ensure they have personal space and get help as soon as possible via panic alarms, shouting or contacting security.
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