The report below contains a variety of different information, all of which is surrounding the concepts of equality; diversity and rights with relevance to Health and Social Care. I first shall be explaining the concepts of equality, diversity and rights in relation to Health and Social Care (P1). The concepts raised in this report are vital as they raise issues of which are essential when working within Health and Social Care settings such as residential care homes, children’s facilities and medical services. Within environments associated with Health and Social Care, there is a vast responsibility to both workers and service-users to ensure that individuals are treated in accordance to equality and diversity legislation, as well as persons own rights. By incorporating equality, diversity as well as individual rights, it ensures that a respectful and dignified service is delivered universally, to both workers and users of such services. Concluding in a significantly high-standard of care for all individuals whom are involved.
P1 – Explain the concepts of equality, diversity and rights in relation to Health and Social Care. Equality – Within the Health and Social Care sector, the concepts of equality, diversity and rights are central to achieving the most effective level of care, benefitting both the initial service user, and health-care workers who work throughout all sectors of the caring system for example: residential care; nursing care; domiciliary care and day care. An essentiality within Health and Social Care, specifically for those who work in the sector, is that they recognise the importance of treating everyone as an individual and treating them equally, without discrimination against the individuals gender; race; beliefs; age; disability; ethnicity; sexual orientation; level of education; language; home background or skin colour. Those who work within Health and Social Care must additionally understand the appropriate terminology regarding the concepts of equality and diversity.
For example: words such as stereotyping and empowerment must be used within the correct context, this gives workers in such environments the opportunity to communicate and work well in an amongst a team in such settings, this will also provide them with the knowledge and knowhow is discriminatory practice was to take place in the workplace to another colleague, or towards a service user. As alongside the appropriate training, knowledge is vital to allow individuals to understand the daily tasks of working within Health and Social Care settings. Abiding by such practices allows not only the service user to be provided with the best care possible, but also allows the health-care worker to be successful in his/her career. Within this report, I will now go on to discuss the concepts of equality, diversity and rights in relation to Health and Social Care in more significant detail. The term ‘equality’, refers to individuals being equal amongst others within society. More specifically, with relevance to rights, status and opportunities.
In reference to Health and Social Care, ‘equity’ additionally refers to fairness and justice for individual, and within healthcare scenarios this means individuals should be entitled to equal access to any service which they may require, and should receive a high-level of care no matter where they live, or who they are. In relation to equality, there are a vast amount of legislation/policies to protect individuals, and insure they are being treated with the level of equality that they are entitled to by law. Just some of these particular policies include: the Equality Act (2010), Race Relations Act (2000) and also the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). All of the previously listed government approved laws and regulations are all based around the concept of equality. The Equality Act (2010), brought together numerous existing regulations and extended them further in an attempt to protect individuals from any form of discrimination (e.g. racism, ageism).
The law maintains every person’s right to not be disadvantaged, not to be treated badly within the workplace and also covers who individual’s must be treated by wider organisations such as higher education organisations, trade bodies, clubs and other associations. Additionally shielding the public of the United Kingdom from any form of discrimination, harassment and victimisation. In its entirety, this law enables all those involved within Health and Social Care to be protected from danger or harm, whether this be physical or psychological, and insures that everyone is treated in a dignified way that they deserve. The Race Relations Act (2000), protects racial equality and ensures no person is discriminated against on the grounds of their race, promoting good relations between people from an array of ethnic backgrounds. Finally, the Disability Discrimination Act, of which I previously mentioned, ensures civil rights for people with disabilities of any variation, and also protects them from any form of discrimination. Frequently, those with disabilities are some of Health and Social Care’s biggest service users, healthcare workers are trained in how to treat such individuals with great levels of care, respect and dignity, allowing them to be treated in the dignified manner of which they deserve alike any other person.
Sometimes, those with disabilities may be quite vulnerable, or even at risk, furthermore the Disability Discrimination Act encourages not only Health and Social Care institutions, but also other organisations to overcome barriers and make reasonable adjustments to ensure full accessibility for these people, making those with disabilities feel welcomed, safe and secure and most importantly, like any regular person. The patient or service user should always be at the heart of the service provision provided. This can easily complete be accomplished by ensuring that health-care workers are fully trained in practices surrounding equality, diversity and rights and that patients/service users are provided with active support from health-care workers. It is common for specific organisations associated with Health and Social Care to have their own policies based around equality, amongst by staff, and for service users.
The National Health Service (NHS) within the United Kingdom is a free service and contains various different organisations within it, www.nhs.uk states the following: “The Equality Act 2010 gives the NHS opportunities to work towards eliminating discrimination and reducing inequalities in care.” In addition to this, the NHS states that, “Promoting equality and equity are at the heart of NHS England’s values – ensuring that the organisation exercises fairness in all that it does and that no community or group is left behind in the improvements that will be made to health outcomes across the country.” With reference to Health and Social Care, equality is one of its upmost vital components to ensure the best standard of care for service users, particularly in settings whereby service users may potentially be vulnerable or at an increased risk, for example, a residential care home for the elderly, or for those with neurological disorders, such as Dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease. Within such settings, it is highly important that service users do feel as comfortable and at ease as possible, in order to protect individuals from exploitation or further harm.
Furthermore, it is a vitality that both workers, and especially service-users are treated with the same level of equality, and also additionally, are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. As well as treating people as individuals, respecting their individuality, their own differences, preferences and opinions. It is essential that people working within Health and Social Care recognise the importance of treating everyone equally, despite their gender; race; language; sexual orientation; age; ethnicity; education; religious beliefs; disability; skin colour or their background, not discriminating against any of the previously mentioned factors is abiding by equality legislation, and a person’s individual rights. In conclusion, in order to achieve high-quality, outstanding care throughout any setting involved with Health and Social Care, equality must be achieved, and is required throughout all aspects of the caring system, whether this be within health, or social care. As discussed, this can be achieved through various ways and means, but awareness is of the highest importance, and recognising when such needs are not being met (discriminatory practice), as well as physically carrying out the correct equality practices.
Diversity – In recent times, diversity has become an influential factor within society in the United Kingdom. It is vital to recognise individual differences, and not to treat people different on the basis of factors of which concern diversity, this level of respect for another person does not just lend itself to people in one’s care, but if a person witnesses this unfair, mistreatment at any given time. Diversity and individual differences should be recognised and celebrated, individuals must be acknowledged and valued for the way in which they are. Particularly, it is vital to support individual’s diversity when working within Health and Social Care, as well as recognising the specific needs and requirements people may have as individuals. By respecting diversity, and the differences between individuals, people in any form of care setting should begin to feel more comfortable as a direct result of being valued and respected. This could potentially lead to more positive, and successful care for not only the initial service user, but also the health-care worker.
In addition to diversity being beneficial within Health and Social Care, it is equally as beneficial to wider society. In modern day society, Britain is a multicultural society with a huge variety of people living within it, of which originate from a variety of different origins. Immigrant groups are heavily dominant in and around the London area, with others concentrated within industrial areas in the South-East, the Midlands and also Yorkshire. In total, today 6.5% of the British population consists of ethnic minorities, which has led towards many consequential benefits for those who inhabit here. The benefits of diversity cover a large range of institutions within our society. For example: there are both many social and cultural benefits for living within a diverse society today, some of which aren’t attached to the Health and Social Care sector, ranging from the things of which we eat, to the economy and social cohesion within societies.
All of these factors of diversity lead to cultural enrichment. Cultural enrichment improves the life of society members, including both those who work within the Health and Social Care sector, and those who use the provided services. These benefits of diversity are each listed in more detail below. Cultural benefits: The arts are a beneficial way of bringing diversity to a wider audience. An example of this is films that are made in foreign countries; these films have the ability to address cultures from around the world in a visual way, which is simple for viewers to understand which has the potential to inform/intrigue others about a range of different cultures. Other attractions like museums and exhibitions can additionally aid understanding of alternative cultures from all around the world. Theatrical performances and plays also provide insight into contemporary cultures.
By having knowledge or participating within the arts, insight will be provided into the benefits of diversity and helps society members appreciate individual differences. In a Health and Social Care context, knowledge of the arts can aid health-care workers to have a deeper understanding of diversity, and this can be appropriately applied to the care of service-users using care services. Cuisine is renowned to be a product of diversity. In contemporary Britain, foods from India, China and Mexico are heavily dominant. A consumer survey suggested that only 6% of people questioned admitted to never have eaten multi-cultural foods. Knowledge of different cuisines from around the world is important within Health and Social Care to ensure individuals are catered for and feel included. Within the profession, a person’s preferred tastes and dietary requirements should be took into deep consideration, specifically when completely tasks such planning an individual’s diet, for example: a nutritionist, or when planning menu’s within care facilities like hospitals/residential care homes.
An individual’s diet may additionally need to be catered towards for various other reasons also, such as a person’s health requirements or religious beliefs. An example whereby an individual’s diet may need to be altered as a result of health issues is if they are diagnosed with Diabetes, where a healthy diet is vital as poorly controlled diabetes can lead serious health complications such as: blindness; organ failure; strokes and gangrene, which potentially could lead towards the amputation of limbs, furthermore within the Health and Social Care where individuals are more likely to suffer from such conditions, diet should be deeply considered on behalf of those being cared for. As previously stated, a person’s religious beliefs also may mean they are unable to eat specific food items, for example: due to religious beliefs, it may mean that some individuals are required to eat halal meat (whereby the animal is still alive until its death, and during the process a Muslim will recite a prayer).
Although actually taking an interest in individuals, asking their food preferences and what they physically can/cannot eat, is a part of diversity, of which must be abided by within Health and Social Care settings. The education system has additionally seen benefits as a result of diversity. In recent times, the National Curriculum has become much less ethnocentric, and has begun to incorporate and explore various different cultures. Ways in which diversity has been incorporated into educational settings including schools, colleges and universities, is that they now include courses in an entire spectrum of different languages. The education system has additionally benefitted from a rise in ethnic minority staff, of whom provide positive role models for children within the setting.
Essentially, the education has become so accepting of diversity that it actually provides equality, diversity and rights training to its staff. For example The Royal College of General Practitioners promotes the importance of equality and diversity in the training of General Practitioners (GP’s). Although nowadays, even outside of the Health and Social Care circle, all organisations are compelled to train all of their staff in equality, diversity and rights, in line with the Equality Act (2010), and under the equal opportunities framework. This level of education is vital to combat against ignorance around the concept of diversity.
A benefit for those who work within Health and Social Care is learning an additional language; this is specifically helpful for individuals who come into contact within an array of people who live within a community, for example a GP. Nowadays in the United Kingdom, many varied languages are spoken, this gives individuals the opportunity to work worldwide flexibly in various different occupations.
Although, it simply isn’t just verbally spoken languages that are useful for workers within Health and Social Care, healthcare workers working with service-users who may have hearing difficulties or who are deaf may find it easier to learn sign language, additionally, healthcare workers who work with those who are visually impaired or registered blind may find it beneficial to have some knowledge around specialised software, which speaks to the viewer, nowadays, most websites have an ‘accessibility’ option for the individuals who cannot read the text, in addition to this, healthcare workers may find it beneficial for their work to have knowledge of braille, a system of raised marks that can be felt with the fingers. People who can speak additional languages other than English are in demand, as while society is becoming more diverse, more people are unable to speak English and therefore interpreters and translators are now required, these jobs are now deemed a career within Health and Social Care, furthermore learning an additional language places individuals at an advantage if they work within Health and Social Care, as service-users can receive the best care possible, as their needs are being met fully.
Overtime, diversity has led to social cohesion. This is a benefit as it is the bringing together of a community. Social cohesion may be formed due to a number of reasons, such as: sharing the same norms and values as others; religion and ethnicity. Belonging to a community is vital to human behaviour, as this provides a safe, supportive and understanding environment whereby the group of people stay together. Difficult situations, for example: natural disasters, usually provide the basis of a group coming together. Strong bonds develop between individuals, this ‘social cohesion’, can potentially be strengthened within difficult circumstances, as if you experience a difficult situation with another person, you have a common interest as both individuals experienced the situation first hand. This bond shares relevance to Health and Social Care, as in order to achieve a high standard of care, healthcare workers must share a professional but a bond typical of social cohesion.
Specifically where individuals are working within diverse teams requires members to respect others within the team and value each person as an individual, without this level of mutual respect, healthcare teams will not work at an effective level, which has the potential to cause difficulties for service users. However, social cohesion is beneficial as it brings society members together, despite differences. Tolerance is a vital quality in relation to diversity and Health and Social Care. In terms of Health and Social Care scenarios, it is likely workers may come across individuals whose views don’t replicate their own, or they may dislike a person. However, within Health and Social Care settings, employees must act in a mature and professional manner, specifically when amongst colleagues and helping service users. Individual differences have to be respected, especially within Health and Social Care as a basic standard of care must be met in order to achieve a satisfactory level of care for service users. Tolerance is a benefit of diversity as overtime we have become more readily aware of individual differences, and respective of this and without a developed, multicultural society, it is unlikely we would be accepting of such differences in opinion.
Advantages of diversity additionally impact the economy. One of these benefits is employment, overtime as contemporary society has become more multicultural, services have come to realise that customers and service users come from a vast array of differing ethnic backgrounds, and furthermore in order to achieve a good quality of service, it is vital that workforces reflect this level of diversity also. By doing so, specifically in Health and Social Care it enables service users to have the ability to relate to healthcare workers which initially could make them feel more at ease and comfortable, specifically when personal health issues are being discussed.
Organisations have also realised that by positively encouraging multicultural employees to apply for jobs, there is a higher likelihood of finding the correct person with the capacity and expertise for the role, of which they may not have otherwise found. This is supported by the mere quantity of healthcare workers who have ethnic minority backgrounds, and even emigrate from their home countries for a career in the National Health Service (NHS), the largest and cheapest health care institution in the world. The Race Relations Act, amended in 2000, promotes race equality, equality of opportunity and good race relations in public organisations, like the NHS, this legislation has helped educate and build a diverse workforce within the United Kingdom, whereby diversity is encouraged.
Rights – Rights refer to the legal entitlements of society members. Every person within society possesses basic human rights, but in turn additionally have a responsibility to respect other society member’s human rights also. The Human Rights Act (2000), this legislation provided citizens in the UK to a range of different entitlements, for example: the right to life; the right to not be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms; the right to a fair trial; the right to freedom from slavery and forced labour; the right not to be subjected to the death penalty and also the right to participate in free elections, just to name a few of them. In reference to Health and Social Care, these rights must be respected, and healthcare workers should have awareness of this act as it has been revolutionary in terms of individual rights within society.
Professionals who work within the Health and Social Care sector are required to promote the equality and rights of their service users, and place the patient or service user at the heart of the service they give. This can be done by providing the service user with active support to service users throughout their time in a professionals care. The principles of the care value base places the service user at the heart of the service. There are seven principles to this: the promotion of anti-discriminatory practice; the promotion and support of dignity, independence and safety; respect and acknowledgement of personal beliefs and individuals identities; maintenance of confidentiality; protection from abuse/harm; promotion of effective communication and relationships and finally, the provision of personalised care which is catered towards the individual. Additionally, ensuring that all staff within the setting are educated and have knowledge around the concepts of rights within Health and Social Care, and ensuring their training/skills is reinforced and updated so they remain relevant and aware of new ideas, new technology and other procedures.
This training can occur through means such as specialist courses and in-house training, mentoring and secondary resources like the internet and television. Also, promoting individuals rights, choices and the wellbeing of individuals can aid the active promotion of rights in terms of healthcare. If the seven principles of the care value base are abided by, healthcare professionals will automatically promote this, benefitting the healthcare worker within their career, but the service user also, as it benefits a person’s feeling of well-being, and independence, especially when they may be in a vulnerable situation. By empowering individuals through the use of anti-discriminatory practices, individuals are additionally abiding by the care value base. However, within health or social care settings, service users or even colleagues within settings may be required to challenge others due to them practising discriminatory practices, this may be a necessary step in providing a high level of care.
This may be difficult for individuals however, if this does not occur, individuals potentially could be breaking the law and even placing themselves at risk of punishment. Healthcare workers may seek guidance in someone in higher authority than themselves, for example: a line manager, or another person who is trusted by the individual. In recent times within the media, anti-discriminatory practice has been frequently depicted, within Health and Social Care it is vital that workers within the sector are empowered and encouraged to promote the choices, well-being and independent rights of co-workers as well as service users. For healthcare workers especially, there will be times where tensions and contradictions in some form arise, in order to deal with this is to gain comfort and support from colleagues, if workers do experience such circumstances, by seeking the use of colleagues skills/guidance will make it easier to deal with any tensions that do arise, ensuring a high level of professionalism and the best service possible.
Besides the active promotion of equality and individual rights, as well as the use of the care value base, rights also share relevance with the practical implications of confidentiality. Importantly, within the Health and Social Care sector, confidentiality is an essentiality. Confidentiality refers to all information relating to users of care facilities, like hospitals, and the records associated with service users remaining private. Whenever handling private and confidential information, healthcare workers must respect individual’s wishes and privacy, follow the appropriate procedures set in place by the organisation in question, and comply with requirements of the law (e.g. Data Protection Act). When gathering confidential information, workers should ensure that only the necessary information is collected, data is only used for its initial purpose, all records are kept safe and secure, and ensure that each workplace has a policy/guidelines set in place for staff to follow.
Finally, individuals is possession of confidential records should ensure that information is stored appropriately, however, for example within the NHS today, information is computerised, therefore it is unlikely for information to be lost/misplaced which it could be if paper based. Despite the universal need for rights to be abided by, on an individual level, rights are equally as vital. Individual rights within Health and Social Care settings are heavily important and abiding by them allows for high standards of care for service users, and professionalism for workers within the Health and Social Care sector, below I will go into further detail of a range of different individual rights in relevance to Health and Social Care:
All individuals have the right to respect, to be treated equally and not be discriminated against on any grounds. To be respected is a basic human right. In relation to Health and Social Care, respect should always be at the centre of a healthcare workers responsibilities. The concept of ‘respect’, involves maintaining a person’s dignity, beliefs, choices and privacy, specifically this is vital when service users are within vulnerable situations, which they are likely to be if they are requiring professional help, healthcare workers should maintain a high level of respect for service users even if their ideas do not mimic the workers. For example: if a patient is obese, and aren’t willing to make changes such as a healthy diet, healthcare workers must respect a person’s choices. In order to be respectful, healthcare workers should possess good listening and communication skills, be patient, accept others choices even if they do not correspond with their own and finally, be non-judgemental of other people. Individuals have the right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against.
Those who work within health or social care must take great care and ensure they do not discriminate against any other person within their care, as every person within the UK has the right to live within a society without being discriminated against due to confounding factors due to their gender, sexuality, race, skin, colour, beliefs or culture. Society members additionally have the right to be treated as an individual, this is done by recognising and valuing differences and treating all people as individuals despite any confounding factors, this is vital within Health and Social Care scenarios as healthcare workers come into contact with people from all walks of life, but should treat each individual the dignity and respect they deserve as their own person. Individuals have the right to be treated in a dignified manner, in a way of which preserves a person’s dignity, and sense of self-worth, this is important in terms of Health and Social Care as individuals in vulnerable situations are at a high-risk and may not have the ability to complete the simplest of daily tasks themselves, furthermore, healthcare workers are required to treat all individuals they come into contact with, with high levels of dignity and respect to ensure the best possible care. Individuals possess the right to be allowed privacy.
In terms of Health and Social Care, individuals are entitled to have their treatments and care kept private, and no information, such as medical documentation, should be passed to people who have no right access it. Additionally, the dignity of service users should be maintained throughout any necessary procedures. Privacy is essential when working within the care sector, this may not be easy to arrange within busy settings such as hospitals or other care facilities, but high quality care can be achieved. Individuals have the right to be protected from danger and harm, all individuals whether working, or using healthcare facilities have the right to be kept safe, away from danger and harm. To ensure this occurs, Health and Social Care settings should have health and safety policies that sets out the actions, rules and regulations that must be followed to keep staff as well as service users safe, and importantly, healthy.
Individuals have the right to access information about themselves. The Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act state that all individuals have the right to see their own health records, and anything else surrounding them, e.g. adoption records. This means within the healthcare sector, those in charge of maintaining and ensuring the security of health records must be responsible for keeping records updated and in order, being able to retrieve information quickly and easily and enabling colleagues to do so in absence of the individual, as well as also ensuring details of individuals are safe and secure. Those within society have the right to communicate using their preferred method of communication/language. Every individual has language preferences.
It is hugely important to ensure that the appropriate language is used to ensure that there is good levels of communication between people, however in reference to Health and Social Care, the increasing demand due to a growing multicultural society has led to more individuals requiring an array of different services. For example: if a person is receiving treatment in an English hospital but does not speak English as their first language, there obviously would be issues with communication, furthermore, hospitals may be required to hire interpreters/translators. Under the Discrimination Act, it is entitled that organisations should ‘make reasonable adjustments’, so in this case, hiring staff that can speak additional languages, or bringing in an external professional to aid the communication process, if institutions did not follow such guidelines, service user could take legal action.
Health and Social Care settings can support communication by: employing staff who speak the local language, employing staff who can speak additional languages, buying in the skills of translators/interpreters, researching into the family and finding out whether the service user has a family member who could act as an interpreter, and finally, offering a range of different communication formats, including: pictures, leaflets in different languages, sign language specialists and educational materials e.g. leaflets, in a range of different languages to ensure everyone is included. People have the right to have their choices taken into account and be protected, this refers to the care value base. In terms of individuals having their choices taken into consideration within Health and Social Care, individuals may wish to have a certain procedure, have their care based at a certain surgery, or selecting a residential care home. These choices should be accepted, taken into account and respected by healthcare workers. Individuals within Health and Social Care additionally have the right to change their care, if they do not believe the care they are receiving is good enough, they have the right and choice to change their care, and even get a second opinion on specific health matters.
In conclusion, within Health and Social Care, respecting the concepts of equality, diversity and rights is has significant importance, for not only the service user, but those whose career is within healthcare sector itself. Equality, diversity and rights should be at the core of all services provided through Health and Social Care, and in order to achieve the best quality of care possible, should be abided by and respected by service users and healthcare workers. As a direct result of this, service users receive the highest standard of care possible, which will go on to have a positive reflection upon the services in question. However, there have been reported cases of neglect of the key concepts, this is called discriminatory practice, which I will address in this assignment (P2/P3/P4), despite this the vast majority of those using healthcare services within contemporary Britain are happy with the service they have been provided with, this is a direct result of those working within the sector respecting and abiding by equality, diversity and rights legislation.