Promoting equality and diversity of service users in care settings
What are the bases of discrimination observed at Queenslands? Illustrate the points you make by giving examples.
The first discriminatory act that I observed in Queenslands concerns disability discrimination that is carried out by all of the staff, but is explained by Rose Wallace:
When Mrs. Campbell asked about sewing name tags into the clothes of the service users as to prevent the garments from being misplaced, Rose proceeded to tell her that this is unnecessary as the people in Queenslands don’t know what they’re wearing anyway so they just dress them in whatever fits. This is a totally blatant form of negative discrimination against anybody and everybody with any kind of disability, mental or physical. To assume that the service users are unaware of what they are wearing is just ludicrous and it’s stereotyping by making the assumption that anybody with any kind of disability is incapable of choice and emotion.
This example is on a par with the case in the dining room. When Rose Wallace told Mrs. Campbell, “we don’t give them a choice – they’re so confused, everything tastes the same.” Once again, this is ridiculous. How can the service user be discriminated against in such an overt manner? They are human beings with opinions, preferences and surely a sense of taste.
The second exhibition of discrimination, was concerned with gender. Firstly Robert Campbell is criticised for watching ‘Neighbours’ when the care worker asks why he’s watching a soap ‘when they are for women only’. This comment must have made Robert feel totally humiliated and perhaps ashamed of something that he had actually enjoyed whilst also raising questions within himself about his own sexuality, which would be very confusing for any person really!! He probably felt ‘silly’ and constant exposure to comments of this nature will eventually erode a person’s self-image.
And, just to prove that sexual discrimination is present at Queenslands, Iris the care worker who was asked to show Mrs. Campbell around informed her that male care workers were not encouraged to work at Queenslands because women make better care workers. What complete nonsense. Qualified males are just as capable in this role as females, and some people may actually prefer to be cared for by a male care worker and the service user should be provided with that choice.
The last example of discrimination at Queenslands that I shall write about is the case where Habib, a service user in the care home is talking to his visitor in their native language and the care worker tells them to stop and speak English as they are upsetting the other residents. This is race discrimination and it should be bore in mind that this and the above examples are illegal under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976.
What are the origins of discrimination at Queenslands?
(The equal opportunities handbook)
Where prejudice is about the ideas we hold of others who are different from us and about the negative assumptions and prejudgements we might make about them, discrimination is about the way we act. When we act more favourably towards one group of people than another and that favouritism is based on prejudice, then we may be said to have discriminated. Discrimination is prejudice in action.
Discriminations whether towards race, gender or disability all have quite common roots. The main roots being: – ignorance, power, vulnerability, upbringing and conformity.
Ignorance, because of a lack of direct knowledge and experience of another person who is different from us. Not knowing why people do certain things, follow certain cultural traditions, speak and dress in certain ways and act differently, we are inclined to fill the gaps in our knowledge and experience by using stereotyped labels. In ignorance, we often interpret such differences as a threat and the explanations that we build, again in ignorance, tend to be heavily negative as a result.
Power has a lot to do with an aspect of discrimination that is termed as ‘institutional’ in that it is contained within the social system and institutions such as health, education, government etc which makes that social system up. The ‘false’ sense of power that being in the majority group holds, may strengthen the belief that people who are in some way outside this group pose a threat to it. In some ways the majority depend upon the existence of minority groups, as it is by setting themselves apart from members of those minority groups that they are able to feel secure in their identity and group membership.
Vulnerability may arise when we think that others may threaten our current view of the world by putting forward alternative ideas and explanations of how things are or should be. Taking, the fact that men aren’t encouraged to work at Queenslands as an example of this. Prejudging the capabilities of male care workers could be a way in which to try and cope with the feeling of vulnerability – the vulnerability regarding the allocation of their jobs, anything they feel the need to cling to for their security.
Although we like to think of ourselves as free-thinking individuals with minds of our own, we need to realize and appreciate the impact of influences in our upbringing. Values, attitudes and beliefs of our parents, extended family, peers and others will have been instilled into our minds and not all of them may have been positive. It would be difficult not to have taken any prejudices on board.
When others are being openly racist or sexist or showing hostility towards members of minority groups it would take great courage to defend the minority group, instead, sadly, most people, most of the time, would simply conform. Non – conformity may cause you to feel isolated. Often our need to be liked and fit in is greater than our resolve to stand up against attitudes and behaviour that we don’t really agree with.
What other bases of discrimination exist in society?
Discrimination is usually directed at individuals because of external characteristics; I’ve already mentioned gender, disability and race discrimination. Other bases of discrimination are directed towards religion, health status, class, the elderly, the gay community and the young. There are no laws at the moment concerning discrimination against age but there is the new age legislation 2006 being put into force at present.
Explain what is meant by direct discrimination and give examples from the case study including the potential effects on the people concerned.
Direct discrimination is a very open and obvious method of disadvantaging a person or group of people. For example; not allowing someone in a wheelchair into a night – club because they would impose a fire risk, name calling, refusing to employ someone because of their age or religion etc.
A good example of direct discrimination at Queenslands is directed towards a service user named Manjula. A care worker told Manjula that she was going to call her Mandy now that she lived in Queenslands they could call her what they liked and that Mandy is a much nicer name than her own anyway. Obviously this upset Manjula immensely as is observed by Mrs. Campbell; Manjula ‘was in tears’!!
This kind of discrimination would have an extremely adverse effect on Manjula. Besides the fact that she will never be very comfortable living at Queenslands as it will now be associated with a place that doesn’t value her for who she is, she is instantly disempowered when they tell her they can call her what they like now. After the anger and frustration this could lead to Manjula developing an inferior sense of self – worth and self – respect. This will affect her day-to-day living enormously, with a poor self-image she could isolate herself and withdraw from opportunities and people. All this will inevitably lead to depression.
Another example of direct discrimination at Queenslands is represented in the fact that male care workers are discouraged from working there. The negative effect here is the lack of diversity. This gives lack of choice to the service user. If a service user would prefer to be treat by a male carer in delicate situations but there are none available this would cause embarrassment which would lead to dread and worry for future times that personal care will be necessary. Exposing individuals to these negative emotions will undoubtedly cause many future issues.
Explain what is meant by indirect discrimination and give examples from the case study including the potential effects on the people concerned.
Indirect discrimination is where the discrimination is subtler and is not aimed at one person or group, however it would be difficult for them to comply. For example strict uniform rules for girls to wear skirts, would exclude Muslim girls who adhere to a religious dress code. Working particular shifts would be discriminating against parents who have child care to consider. The lack of ramps at building entrances would be indirectly discriminatory towards wheelchair users.
An example of indirect discrimination at Queenslands is hard to find because indirect discrimination is a much more complicated form of disadvantaging anyway, and in Queenslands it’s mostly very direct and overt. But, the closest occurrence is in the situation concerning Habib, the service user who is talking to his visitor in his native language. This could be because his visitor doesn’t speak very good English. Maybe the care worker isn’t really trying to be detrimental towards him personally, she just assumes this is upsetting the rest of the service users. Maybe it just upsets her and not the other residents at all. Either way, this is very oppressive towards Habib and his visitor. Their conversation won’t be able to flow so freely any longer. They may struggle to have a conversation at all if his visitor can’t speak any English.
This could lead to this particular visitor finding it pointless returning again, which would be isolating Habib, which could cause a number of problems for him, beginning with anger and frustration that he and his culture is not valued. Being devalued in such a manner will lead to Habib feeling that he doesn’t belong, this type of isolation could lead to depression. We need to remember that the residents of Queenslands have mental and physical disabilities and they are rather isolated already. It’s very detrimental to discriminate against vulnerable people and the care workers need to be very cautious of what they say and do as it will lead to great unrest in the entire residence.
Explain how care workers at Queenslands can promote equality and value diversity and why it is important to do so.
Equality is important for the service users of Queenslands because ensuring that all people have equal opportunities and equal rights in law and society will encourage them to develop to their full potential. There are many ways in which to promote equality, and education and training is at the top of this list. Issues cannot be recognized without a sound knowledge of clients’ rights and the care value base. Employers should incorporate standards of behaviour in their contracts of employment. They should provide codes of conduct to guide the care workers in how to carry out their work and produce equal opportunities policies, and codes of practice that would give a clear definition of what quality means. These codes can be used to measure whether or not good quality care is being provided to the service user.
The care worker needs the ability to prevent prejudices and assumptions, which lead to discrimination from damaging the quality of care provided to the service user. The best way to do this is by valuing the service user and the differences in them. Treating people as individuals with different beliefs, abilities, likes and dislikes is at the heart of care work. The care workers at Queenslands need to learn about diversity to be able to value it. To do this it is necessary for them to communicate, listen to and watch what other people say and do. It can be very interesting to learn about others. Having a broader knowledge of the people that you are caring for will make you a better carer, and as well as that, a broader knowledge of all kinds of people can only be enriching in your own life.
If the care worker isn’t well educated enough to value diversity she will not be able to appreciate and respect the differences in the people she is caring for. She will end up discriminating and there are many ill effects of discrimination such as making people feel inferior, anger, disempowerment, isolation etc which can lead to poor mental health, addictions, depression etc.
It would seem that education is definitely the best way forward!! Health and Social care practices are continually changing, especially in the terms of legislation. Staff must receive regular updating – and the access to this training must be equal. Equality for the staff is just as important as it is for the service user. Care workers need to be supported too, after all, they are the key to delivering the highest quality of care to the service user; they should be supplied with supervision, caseload assessments, debriefing and counselling services.
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