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Equality and Diversity in Adult Care

George Griffiths

21 July 2020

Equality and Diversity in Adult Care

George Griffiths

21 July 2020

Equality and diversity is an essential part of every care establishment.

So what exactly is equality and diversity in adult care, and why is it so important?

Equality is the practice of making sure everyone is treated the same regardless of their race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, among other characteristics.

This means every care client is entitled to the same high standard of care as their peers, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Diversity, on the other hand, is about recognising the differences between people, and acknowledging the positive value of these differences.

In care, this means taking account of clients’ individual needs based on their characteristics, and making each and every client feel valued, recognised and accommodated by tailoring care accordingly.

Lack of equality and diversity in adult care leads to discrimination, prejudice, and a client’s loss of individuality, and creates an unacceptable situation where clients are not given the quality of care they deserve.

For example, a recent government report found that the LGBTQ+ community were constantly let down in care, with care not designed to include them, but rather aimed at heteronormative people.

As such, it’s important that care providers strive to place equality and diversity at the heart of everything they do.

What laws protect equality and diversity in adult care?

There are four key laws in place to stop discrimination in adult social care. These are

The Equality Act 2010

This act makes it illegal for people to discriminate against an individual based on the following ‘protected’ characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Pregnancy and maternity

The Human Rights Act 1998

This act ensures that public organisations including the Government, police and local councils must treat everyone ‘equally, with fairness, dignity and respect’.

 It also permits people to challenge inequality in court.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects vulnerable people when it comes to making decisions. 

It champions ‘every adult’s right to make their own decisions wherever possible’ - helping them to retain as much control as possible over decisions that affect them.

Therefore, this act prevents assumptions and discrimination on the base of mental capacity.

The Care Act 2014

This act is centered upon placing people’s wellbeing at the forefront of decisions, and championing personalisation of care to the individual.

Equality and diversity in adult care in practice

Equality and diversity forms part of the ‘Is it effective?’ key lines of enquiry from the Care Quality Commission.

They ask: ‘What processes are in place to ensure there is no discrimination, including in relation to protected characteristics under the Equality Act, when making care and support decisions?’

Consider the following areas where discrimination could arise, and how to avoid it:

Sexuality and gender identity

The LGBTQ+ community refers to those with lesbian, gay or bisexual sexual orientations, transgender and queer/questioning gender identities, while the + refers to other minority sexualities and identities.

Gender identity concerns a person’s personal identification. They may identify as male, female, neither male nor female (non-binary), a mixture of male and female (bigender), and many more variants.

How can you prevent homophobia or discrimination in care?:

  • Staff should be taught to never assume anything about a client’s sexuality. For example, they should never assume heteronormativity
  • Staff should understand the sexual minority terms that come under ‘+’, so they can recognise them and accommodate them
  • Never stereotype clients. For example, if a client identifies as gay do not assume this means they will naturally have particular traits or interests
  • Constantly monitor the language you use and consider if it might be offensive to certain groups
  • Respect and encourage clients’ expression of identity through their appearance

Religion

The care you provide will vary from person to person based on their individual religious beliefs. 

For example, some religions forbid certain practices like blood transfusions, some require help adhering to prayer schedules, and others need considerations of religious holidays to be taken into account.

To stop the potential for misunderstandings, consider training your staff thoroughly to recognise, respect and support clients with different beliefs.

Disability

Consider how you can make all the necessary accommodations for all disabilities in your provision of care. For example, for those with reduced vision, can you provide materials in braille? 

Age

Judgements must not be made about clients based on their age. 

For example, you should not assume that because a client is over the age of 90 that they will struggle to remember things they have been told.

So, how can you promote equality and diversity in your care organisation?

  • An organisation equality and diversity policy should be created (if there isn’t already one in place) and you should also make sure other policies and procedures are non-discriminatory
  • Everyone on your team needs to be aware of - and trained in - the legislation attached to equality and diversity, understand its principles, and be able to deploy it in practice
  • You must also provide them with all means necessary to stop inequality and discrimination in the care environment - whether that be a designated equality and diversity ambassador who they can approach or online systems to report other employees
  • Promote a non-judgemental policy whereby employees will not allow their own beliefs to affect their work
  • Encourage reflective practice in your workplace where employees can consider their behaviour and troubleshoot where there might be room for improvement
  • Respect individual requirements and develop tailored care plans

How can uRosterCare help to promote equality and diversity in adult care?

uRosterCare’s person-centered electronic care planning allows clients to share life stories, hobbies of interest and everything that is important to them, highlighting their individual requirements.

Clients have the ability to leave voice notes explaining/sharing what they want to, in their own words.

The system also allows you to capture events, allocate staff to days out or trips that the clients would like to take. You, the provider, will have the ability to personalise and add the names of all the types of visits you offer.

Equality and diversity in adult care: a conclusion

It is essential that care providers ensure equality and diversity is achieved by knowing the laws protecting against discrimination, having equality and diversity policies, and systems in place for training staff to be equal and encourage diversity.

uRosterCare’s person-centered electronic care planning helps you understand clients’ individual requirements, to put equality and diversity at the heart of your care organisation.

Get in touch today to see how uRosterCare could benefit you.

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