If a person went into care today, they have the right to expect to be cared for by a team of care workers that represent the diverse make-up of our society. There should never be a bias toward one group or another but it should be balanced and mirror all the diverse groups that exist. The UK is one of the most diverse countries on the planet and it is important that our care reflect this diversity.
What exactly do we mean by diversity? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, diversity is defined as the differences between individuals; specifically, the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, religions, etc. For me, however, diversity is a mindset: it is about looking behind the surface; it is about appreciating, acknowledging and celebrating the glorious differences we each can bring to the party!
Going into care is a huge lifestyle change. Normally, you are leaving the comforts of your own home behind to be cared for by a team of carers who you may not have ever even have met before! There will residents in the home you have never met too! It can be an exciting and scary time and a monumental change in the day-to-day life of an individual.
There are many residents that will also feel vulnerable and anxious and unsure about how they will cope with such a big change. These feelings are compounded even further if the care received is not diverse. If there aren’t people around you who have lived experience of your life, your culture, your faith, then it stands to reason that your concerns about the huge changes with which you are dealing will be compounded.
So, how can we promote diversity in care? There are lots of goals that can be set to achieve diversity. Leaders in care have a responsibility to promote diversity and equality across the sector. Let’s take a look at a few key principles that should shape diversity in care.
It is vital that care and support packages are tailored to the unique needs of the service users, recognising differences and reducing inequality. To achieve these, leaders should integrate the Common Core Strategic Principles, as recommended by Skills for Care.
- Commitment to Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Values
Providers should promote equality and diversity in their mission statements, core actions and strategic plans.
- Promoting Equality, Diversity and Human Rights in Decision Making
Managers need to make sure that decision making and all partnerships promote diversity and that is an integral part of all aspects of their business.
- Advancement of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights
When planning business activities equality and diversity should be top of mind so constructive relationships can be established with service users and partner agencies.
- Monitoring Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Performance
Management teams need to monitor care provision to service users and this will help to determine areas that need to be improved.
- Commitment to Equal Access and Open Standards
All service users should have equal access to products and services and you should remove barriers preventing them from accessing why they need. Equality and diversity should be at the centre of all decision making. The promotion of equality in the workplace is often about prevention even if it is unintentional.
Diversity in care is important for so many reasons and, as a sector, we must work together to ensure we always get it right.
It is important that care providers establish ways of working that are not discriminatory. Care providers should provide person-centred care and work in a non-judgemental way. Employees should be encouraged to celebrate diversity and respect the differences that makes each and everyone of us unique. Care plans should be personalised to reflect the likes, dislikes, personal history and beliefs of service users.
Diversity in care is one of the most hotly-debated topics in the social care sector. It is essential that we keep talking about it so that we never forget why getting it right is so important. As a society, we have come so far with respecting diversity and we need to keep passing the baton on to the next generation so that regardless of your differences individuals always experience diverse and equal care.
At the Foundation, our mission is to be champions of the social care sector and to celebrate those that work and live it. A key part of this is to promote diversity and equality in all layers of the work that we do. We want to be one of the leading voices in making sure diversity is at the forefront of all our conversations. Let’s keep talking and making sure diversity in care remains a priority for all of us!