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Thumbs Up For Improving Disabled People’s Experience In Social Care

The nationally acclaimed change programme and social movement Purple Tuesday officially launched its 2021 campaign on Tuesday 2 November at Piccadilly Lights. The aim of which is to highlight the inequalities disabled people encounter as customers and highlight their value and contribution as employees and consumers across a vast range of sectors in the UK.

During its campaign Purple developed a very special alliance with the cross-sector Championing Social Care initiative and CareTech Foundation. Coming together to recognise Purple Tuesday the alliance raised awareness within the social care sector of the huge opportunities disability can bring.

In what was a hugely significant alliance, leaders from the social care sector were eager to support the Purple Tuesday movement and its CEO Mike Adams, to spread the message about disability inclusion across the sector.

Making the obvious connection between the two, it seemed fitting that a frank conversation about disability should be had within a sector that cares for and supports individuals with disabilities.

More than just lip service the campaign hashtag #ThumbsUp for Purple Tuesday was far from a box ticking exercise. During a round table discussion with some of the social care sector’s leading voices they agreed that the sector had a collective responsibility to be the main driving force behind disability inclusion.

Already a champion for disability, Ruth Owen, CEO, Leonard Cheshire, explained how making people with disabilities the centre of everything they do is the right path for them. “We’re making people with disabilities centre to everything that we do. From our board and leadership team, to the frontline, we want to make Leonard Cheshire the place of people with disabilities. We want to be the place where people with disability want to come and work.

“Our key objectives for 2022 are about ensuring we are as inclusive as the communities that we serve. For us it’s a positive experience, it has enhanced the roles of colleagues and provided them with a different perspective; whilst opening us up as an organisation to be inclusive for everybody.”

Facts and figures provided by the disability equality charity Scope state there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK. Recognising that 1 in 5 will have, or develop, a disability its not surprising the roundtable discussion spoke of changing mindsets.

Eager to not separate people out, Jonathan Freeman CEO of the CareTech Foundation was keen to point out that language has a huge role to play in tipping the balance to being inclusive. “How we think about disability extends to how we communicate about disability. Terminology such as ‘service users’ seems to imply they are lesser than, are they not just simply individuals? It isn’t just nice think about these things it is essential for a stronger more diverse social care sector.”

In a recently produced Impact Report the success of the campaign has been measured against how it was received within the sector, and the findings are extremely positive.

Attracting significant interest from different types of organisations across the care sector, 15 organisations registered with Purple Tuesday, while four organisations registered for year-round support through Purple 365.

The take-away findings from the Impact Report show a strong appetite to make a change.

 63% of engaged social care organisations shared recommendations from Purple Tuesday with their staff and care managers, while half supported the initiative through social media and 38% included details to staff through newsletters. Other organisations disseminated awareness, advice and guidance through employee networks.

  • The most valuable aspect of the Purple Tuesday and Championing Social Care partnership was seen to be the opportunity to engage with the wider care sector, and supporting their staff to deliver better care.
  • 72% of engaged social care organisations feel that the Purple partnership has increased awareness of the accessibility needs for care experienced people. 84% of engaged social care organisations feel the Purple partnership has encouraged them as an organisation to think differently about the accessibility needs of their customers and employees.

 One of the key challenges of the partnership is the very different makeup of the care sector and the decentralised structure of the organisations, challenging consistent and immediate communications. One of the key learnings from this was that a longer term or multi-year partnership would enable organisations to engage more effectively across their organisation building up awareness and having the opportunity to change behaviours over the longer term.

  • 100% of organisations would recommend continuing the partnership next year and would recommend Purple activities to other care sector organisations.

Jonathan Freeman, CEO, CareTech Foundation says: “The Impact Report is extremely encouraging. It illustrates the social care sector is willing and eager to make that change. It isn’t about policies and documents it’s about action. Just one commitment and one action is all it takes to start making that change towards a more diverse and inclusive sector for all.”

Mike Adams, CEO, Purple says: “Social Care really should be the vanguard of how disabled people are perceived. It should also be the vanguard of employment opportunities for disabled people. We all know the best kind of employees are people who have lived experience, wouldn’t it make sense to embrace those talents from people who have the understanding of receiving some form of social care support? There is a huge opportunity for the social care sector to really take the lead and be the change the disabled community has been waiting for.”

Get involved and make a change.

For more information about Championing Social Care visit www.championingsocialcare.org.uk

Edel Harris

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