6 Equality and diversity

As a healthcare assistant, you will need to be aware of and understand issues of equality and diversity, and how negative attitudes such as stereotyping and discrimination lead people to perceive individuals or groups as being different. Discrimination can arise from both personal attitudes and behaviours, but also in the way services are organised and delivered. For example, a care plan that is only written in English in small font is an organisational arrangement that excludes those who cannot read, do not read English or have poor eyesight.

Equality and inclusion are basic human rights, and equality is about making sure that everyone is given equal opportunity according to their needs. This might mean giving information in different formats (for example Braille for a blind person) or making sure there is access to a building for an individual in a wheelchair. The consequences of discrimination, especially in older age, can be wide-ranging. Long-term discrimination can lead to poor physical and mental health provision, to inequity in access to services, and to low self-esteem and frustration.

Activity 2

Timing: (allow about 20 minutes)

Now you will watch a video which explains the definitions of equality, diversity, prejudice and discrimination – which can be direct or indirect – and makes the point that a fair society is an equal and diverse one.

When you have watched it, write down some examples of stereotyping and prejudice, and think of an alternative response. Think about how to avoid these behaviours occurring in your workplace. Consider your own attitudes and those of your colleagues, and the patients you are caring for. Have you overheard prejudiced statements? Have you challenged them?

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Equality, diversity, prejudice and discrimination
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Were you able to think of some examples and responses? It may be that racism (for example) can be difficult to talk about in your team, and that you wouldn’t feel confident to challenge prejudice, but if staff feel unable to talk about stereotyping and prejudice, they will not be able to challenge it when it is directed against patients. The key to avoiding stereotyping and prejudice in the workplace is to have a flexible and open workplace culture. This openness and honesty will make it easier for care workers to share their concerns and find solutions to racist behaviour. Remember that one of the 6 C’s is courage, and be courageous in challenging or confrontational situations that you know are not right and that do not promote the wellbeing of all individuals, and always respect diversity by providing person-centred care.

Stereotyping and prejudice can lead to discrimination, which can result in inappropriate and poor-quality care, and should always be challenged.

5 Dealing with incidents, errors and near misses

7 Safeguarding