The Importance of Equality and Diversity
Everyone should have access to the support and care that they need regardless of their individual circumstances. Staff within the health and social care sector has a duty to promote equality and diversity across all areas of their work, providing a service that is fair, personalised and diverse.
Equality and diversity are key components in the delivery of quality health and social care services and good practice should encourage and promote these values as much as possible. A health and social care worker should ensure that through their work, service users are treated fairly and equally and each service user they are responsible for is treated with dignity and respect. Equality and diversity should never be viewed as a bonus in terms of service delivery; it should be an integral part of service planning
Defining Equality and Diversity
Before you can start to actively promote equality and diversity within a health and social care setting, it is important to understand what they mean:
- Equality – Ensuring that all service users can access the same opportunities regardless of their lifestyle, ability or background
- Diversity – Demonstrating respect for individual beliefs, values, cultures and lifestyles and appreciating difference
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Common Core Strategic Principles
All leaders within the health and social care sector have a duty to promote diversity and equality across each business area. This involves organising care and support packages which are tailored to the individual requirements of the service user, recognising differences and reducing inequality. Within the health and social care sector, providers are strongly encouraged to implement the Common Core Strategic Principles. These principles outline a consistent approach to care provision which ensures that equality and diversity are taken into consideration and they are at the forefront of all decisions at a strategic level. The Common Core Strategic Principles include
Commitment to Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Values – Any health and social care provider should promote equality and diversity through their mission statement, core values and strategic action plans.
Promoting Equality, Diversity and Human Rights in Decision Making – Managers should ensure that decision making, partnership working and governance all promote equality and diversity through the implementation of robust organisational policies and procedures which are consistently applied in each business area.
Advancement of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights – Business activities are planned with equality and diversity in mind so that constructive relationships are established with service users and partner agencies
Monitoring Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Performance – Management teams will take steps to continually monitor service provision, identifying areas for improvement and taking action as required
Commitment to Equal Access and Open Standards – Products and/or services need to be accessible by all. Any barriers which may prevent a service user from accessing what they need should be identified and removed.
These principles provide a comprehensive framework which enable providers to deliver the right support within health and social care and to ensure that equality and diversity are at the centre of strategic decision making. Furthermore, the promotion of equality and diversity within the workplace is often about the prevention of discrimination even if this is unintentional.
Equality, Diversity and the Law
In order to promote equality and diversity it is important that you understand the various pieces of legislation which relate to health and social care settings:
- The Equality Act 2010 – Safeguards against discrimination for people who possess one of the nine protected characteristics. These characteristics are age, marriage, disability, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion, sexual orientation, sex and gender reassignment.
- The Human Rights Act 1998 – Defines the principles of equality and basic human rights through FREDA. Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy.
- The Mental Capacity Act 2005 – Most relevant to equality and diversity is the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards which promote the dignity, independence and rights to freedom for individuals who lack the capacity to do so.
- The Care Act 2014 – Within this Act there are six principles which establish the foundations for all work with vulnerable adults, ensuring that the care provided for them is tailored to their requirements.
Strategies for the Promotion of Equality and Diversity
Being able to promote equality and diversity in the workplace is so important. All employees should have a comprehensive understanding of the principles, practices and legislation so they can properly apply them in their day to day activities. Without a fundamental understanding of equality and diversity it can be very difficult to actively promote it in the sector.
There are several strategies that you can implement to effectively promote equality and diversity including:
- The development of an equality and diversity policy
- Ensuring that your workforce have read and understand the policy
- Providing all staff with the opportunity to complete equality and diversity training as part of their induction and provide regular refresher training to reflect changes in legislation
- Promoting individual requirements and developing tailored care plans
Finding out what your service users expect from the services that they are accessing. By keeping their requirements at the forefront of care planning you can provide a tailored package of care which will always be in the best interests of the service user.
Ways of Working
Establish ways of working which are not discriminatory, provide person centered care and work in a non judgmental manner.
Employees should be encouraged to value diversity and respect the attributes that make people different. Individual care plans should be developed to reflect the likes, dislikes, personal history and beliefs of the individual.
Code of Conduct
One of the best ways in which you can promote equality and diversity is to comply with the health and social care code of conduct. In this industry, a code of conduct or code of practice will define the standards that health and social care workers must meet to provide the right level of support.
In health and social care the code of conduct outlines the following key principles:
Accountability – Ensuring that you are accountable for your actions and take responsibility for any omissions or errors
Promotion – Rights, privacy, dignity, wellbeing and health of the service users
Collaborative Working – Establishing partnership working to ensure that the care delivered is high quality, safe and compassionate
Communication – Developing effective communication channels and promoting open and honest communication
Confidentiality – Ensuring that the confidentiality and privacy of service users is protected at all times
Quality – Health and social care workers should be committed to driving up standards in healthcare through ongoing training and professional development
At the centre of promoting equality and diversity is the delivery of person centred care and all health and social care workers should be committing to upholding these values and implementing them as fully as possible when they are delivering health and social care services. In order to ensure the delivery of person centred care then please do take our Care Certificate Standards Course. For 10% off the course use the coupon code “CARE10” upon checkout.