Discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of a particular group in society or an individual. This maybe if someone was to single another out, or treat them differently to others due to their personal opinions and beliefs or maybe due to stereotypes linked to that person. There are several reason that a person may choose to discriminate against others, it may be down to their religion, psychical or mental ability, gender choices, appearance or academic performance. There are two main types of discrimination, these are known as overt and covert. Overt means open discrimination, this is when someone makes it clear that they are discriminating against another individual or group of people.
An example of overt discrimination that could potentially occur within a health and social care maybe that a member of staff is constantly giving someone less attention and not meeting their needs or even purposely serving them last because they do not agree with their religious beliefs. However covert is a more closed and covered up type of discrimination where it is harder to prove that the person has discriminated against another at all, in a health and social care setting an example of this maybe if job applications for a nurses position in a doctors surgery were rejected by the employers because they are over a certain age so they believe they think they will have less ability or remember good practise or can’t work as fast than a younger applicant.
As mentioned before, there are several reason/basis for discrimination here are five examples and a short explanation of why someone may discriminate against them;
Cultural background/religion – It is important that every individual is allowed to express their religious beliefs openly as in a way it shapes them as a person and creates their identity. Factors such as this are usually impacted by the people and environment that we are brought up in, whether it comes from our parents, grandparents, older siblings or others that care for us. In any health and social care setting it is very important that service user’s religious beliefs are respected at all times. For example if a young patient was to get pregnant and they were unable to have an abortion due to their religion, staff within the setting should respect this decision and support the service user throughout her pregnancy. Another example maybe if a patient was in critical condition in hospital after an incident and needed a blood transplant, but they were a Jehovah witness they may have signed a statement to say that in any case there is when they need a blood transplant, they do not want it to take place, however difficult it may be it is crucial that staff in the hospital respect these decisions whether they strongly disagree with them or not.
These are two examples of how those working in a health and social care setting should respect service user’s personal decisions. However if a worker was to discriminate against someone for these choices, they may not show as much care towards to Jehovah witness because they do not agree with their beliefs or decisions on the matter in hand, where as they would still be giving the up most care to other patients on the ward. Again if a maternity nurse or someone working on the maternity ward believed that the patient should have had an abortion because they not in the right psychical or mental state to look after a child, they may treat them differently or in a poorer manor to older couples on the ward who do have a more stable environment to bring up a child in.
Age – Someone could discriminate against another for their age either because they are young or old, it means treating someone differently or unfavourably due to their age. For example if someone was looking at applications for a job as a carer for elderly and they were rejecting applications from people who are over the age of 55, because they stereotyped that they would be slow, forget things and would be retiring soon, they would be discriminating against them simply down to their age. However it may be that if they were looking at the same applications and two people had the same qualifications and the same amount of experience but the employers chose to favour those in their thirties over those who were younger as the think that they would be more professional, they would also be age discriminating. Another example maybe if a patient was being discriminated against, because the doctors and nurses thought that money should be spent on younger patients over older ones because the older patients don’t have as long to live.
Disability – There are many disabilities in the world, whether it be physical or mental, which differ certain individuals from others, and though many don’t see this at a problem, it may be that others decide to discriminate against them and treat them differently in a negative way. Some may think that because someone is in a wheelchair, they are less able in all ways therefore are not as important as someone who is fully physically abled, but this is not true as they are still a human being and should be treated the same and be given the same opportunities as everyone else.
An example of discrimination against those with physical disabilities could be that a company that someone who cannot walk properly is working for refuses to provide appropriate accessibility such as ramps and/or lifts. This is discrimination as they are not meeting their needs yet they are meeting the needs of others who are fully abled. Another example may be if someone has a condition such as anxiety and a company refuses to put them in for a promotion along with others because they think it will be too stressful even though the individual believes they are just as worthy as the others and they have the same or more/better qualifications than others.
Sexuality – This refers to discrimination against another based on their sexual preferences, so if they are or are perceived to be homosexual, bi sexual or heterosexual. It includes anything from treating the differently/less favourably than others in a setting or workplace to name calling and making jokes and unkind comments towards another individual or group of people. This conflicts with some religions also, as it may be that because of their religion not agreeing with homo or bisexuality they feel the need to treat a person differently. It is actually against the law to discriminate against someone due to their sexual orientation, and it is more generally known as homophobia. An example of when someone may demonstrate this type of discrimination may be if a nurse in a hospital offered all service users a choice of what food and drink they wanted for lunch, but didn’t ask another because they were in a same sex relationship and their partner was visiting, and the nurse did not agree with the relationship, this would be discriminating based on their sexuality as they put them at a disadvantage and treat them unfavourably to others.
Family status – This is discrimination against an individual or group of people because of the family that they belong to, whether it be because it is a same sex parents family, a mixed race family or because someone is living in a single parent family. An example of this discrimination may be at a parents evening in a school, a teacher may choose to talk to and give more time to other parents first over other parents because they are a mixed race couple with a mixed race child.
Health status – This can refer to anything from the presence of a disease or condition which leaves the individual at a disadvantage to serious mental health illnesses and issues. It is almost always subject to life expectancy of a particular person and/or a health status which has been self-assessed. Discrimination against someone with a poor health status can be common, as employers would rather employ someone with a better health status as they believe that they may be more reliable, if this happened the employer would be discriminating.
Discrimination in the work place is very common, whatever the basis of it may be, and it can be demonstrated through several different things. In general any discriminatory practise is a setting which discriminates in any way against any individual or group involved. Here are four examples of how a discriminatory practise could potentially be identified, and an explanation of each;
Infringement of rights – This is when an individual’s rights are taken away or violated by another person or an organisation. Every person in the work place has a number of rights which act as a type of entitlements, these range from the right to life to the right to freedom, all of our rights are listed under The Human Rights Act 2000. There are many ways in which an individual could be discriminated against my either another individual or setting in general, this could be something such as not allowing them to be treated the same as others in a setting because of their religion, sexual preferences, gender, disability, age or social class.
An example of this in health and social care could be in a care home, it could be something such as the staff handling patients roughly when they are clearly uncomfortable and in pain. This can have a massive effect on elderly, venerable service users, for example the loss of rights, this is when a certain individuals right/s are taken away by another, in this example there are a number of rights that are being stripped from the individual such as the right to be respected or the right to be treated in a dignified manner. By infringing and taking away a service users rights, it may also cause them to have low self-esteem/low self-confidence, as they may be shamed by the experienced and become withdrawn and quiet.
Abuse – There are several forms in which abuse can appear, some may effect a person more, some are more hidden than others, but all forms of abuse consist of a person being treated in an un-kind way two or more times. Here are a list of the different forms of abuse, a brief explanation of each, an example of how it may occur in health and social care and finally how this type of abuse could affect the person involved: Verbal abuse – This ranges from name calling to using abusive language to be little another individual or to criticize them, an example of this in a school may be if a teacher is constantly calling a child ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’. This could have a massive effect on the child as they may begin to believe what the teacher is saying and this may cause their confidence and self-esteem to be knocked which will affect their intellectual wellbeing, as well as making them feel marginalised from the rest of the class. Physical abuse – This type of abuse occurs when a person physically causes harm to another and inflicts pain upon them.