Discrimination in the Care sector? : A Level Health and Social Care

We all expect the best care when we go into hospital or when we receive any other kind of social care. However, this is not always the case. This article lays out the possible reasons behind any prejudices one might come across and the effects on the person experiencing them.


Effects of attitudes and prejudices on people who use services

People’s attitudes and beliefs can be discriminating towards different groups of people.  Discrimination can be defined as the negative treatment taken towards or against a person of a certain group which can be on the basis of sex, religion, class, gender, race, marital status, beliefs, disability, and sexual orientation.  This is known as direct discrimination; for example, a female working in a male dominated environment is overlooked for a job promotion because of her gender.

In contrast, indirect discrimination occurs when there are rules, regulations or procedures in place that have a discriminatory effect on certain groups of people. This is a less obvious form of discrimination.  For example, a refuge which is for women fleeing domestic violence may choose to only employ female staff due to the sensitive nature of the work.

Attitudes and prejudices can affect professionals and services users. For example, care workers may be quick to make assumptions about the people they are caring for. It is important in any caring tasks that the views and feelings are considered continuously. That is, the carer should not stereotype people they are working with into one client group. For example, that all older people have difficulties with their memory and assume because they cannot remember, they cannot express their wishes. Similarly, misjudgements should not be made about people because of the way they look. For example, if a person is in a wheelchair, it cannot be assumed that they are unable to participate in sports or that they don’t enjoy playing sports. Stereotyping is harmful when it becomes damaging to the other person. It is important that all care workers who work in health and social care settings do not hold prejudices or negative attitudes.

When someone makes a pre-judgment about another person or group; for example, ‘all boys who wear hoodies are in gangs’. This is making an assumption about boys who wear ‘hoodies’; this is prejudice, that is, they have a personal bias towards something that they have seen or heard. While a prejudice is what someone thinks, such as holding personal beliefs or attitudes to prejudge other groups negatively, discrimination is what a person does; how they treat another person or group unfairly based on their prejudice.

A care worker may not feel valued as an employee if they experience poor working conditions and poor pay. This can have a negative effect on their motivation to work. Lack of motivation can mean that employees do not work at their best ability if they are not feeling valued as a worker. Also, in the working environment difficulties may arise that causes a barrier to treating people well. For example, employees may be influenced by other workers to conform to inappropriate workplace norms. That is, a worker may copy or follow other workers bad practice and think that this is a ‘workplace norm’. For instance, not knocking on a person’s door before entering is not promoting a clients privacy and dignity. Also, completing tasks in the same way other workers do, even if this is bad practice, because of the belief ‘that’s how it has always been done’ where no one questions what is seen as the ‘norm’.

If a worker is pre-occupied with their own needs they may not be able to empathise and be sensitive towards the client’s needs. In addition, if the worker is not equipped with the appropriate training, they may lack skills to complete care tasks appropriately. This may be exacerbated if the worker lacks understanding in what the job entails; poor training and experience may lead people to practice care work poorly. Health and social care workers should have the appropriate knowledge and skills to deal sensitively with the various circumstances in which the patients’ privacy and dignity may be infringed.

For many people, they may take on the role of an informal carer who helps to care for a family member, such as an elderly relative. Caring for somebody is a very rewarding experience, but even in the best circumstances it can be difficult and demanding. For example, a carer may experience mixed of emotions when caring for a relative, such as love for the family member and wanting to help but also feeling very tired and frustrated. This may be exacerbated if the carer is a member of the family and feels they are solely responsible for caring for a relative. The family carer may feel isolated and resentful because nobody appears to understand or offer help. The carer may feel resentful if he or she feels she has had to give up aspects of their own life such as full-time employment to care for a relative. As a carer, they may feel their life is more restricted which brings about feelings of resentment. At the same time, the carer may feel very guilty at having such angry feelings. It can be difficult for the carer to care effectively with these mixed emotions occurring and they may need to ask for advice and support from other family members, friends or services.

This article has been put together by the distance learning organisation Start Learning who are experts in home study.

If you want to find out more about A Level Health and Social Care or many other distance learning courses please browse their website: http://www.start-learning.co.uk

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