At times, it is easy for the diversity of older people to become hidden or not recognised with older people being viewed as one homogeneous group. There is a particular risk of this happening in areas which are falsely perceived as having no or limited diversity, such as rural areas. Viewing older people as one homogeneous group or through stereotyped lenses can lead to actions which undermine services' attempts to treat individuals with dignity and respect. However, recognising the diversity of older people can help organisations to develop more holistic approaches that are sensitive to the needs of all potential service users. Having a service that recognises and removes barriers is vitally important for people who may have faced discrimination in the past.
It is the small things that can often make a big difference. For example:
- An isolated and grieving service user being able to open up to their case worker about the death of their same sex partner.
- A service user having their communication needs met when engaging with an agency, enabling them to feel informed, empowered and listened to.
- Using inclusive language so that people can relate to and not feel excluded from the service.
- A home maintenance officer treating someone’s home with respect, such as wearing shoe coverings or thinking about the implications of moving items within someone’s home.
The aim was to make the guide as practical as possible. That is why, alongside the main handbook, quick reference sheets have been developed for the different job functions within agencies. Each sheet has been tailored to reflect practical tips and information most relevant for the different roles and engagement with service users which staff members will have.
The main guide and quick reference sheets provide tips in relation to age, disability, gender, gender identity, race and ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation and carers on areas such as:
- Making appointments
- Treating individuals with respect
- Visiting or carrying out work in a person’s home
- Office visits
- Raising awareness of services
It also highlights issues that have safeguarding implications in terms of situations where staff members come across cases of domestic abuse, hate crime and elder abuse. The main guide also notes what staff should do if they face discrimination or harassment.
It is recognised that the handbook only provides general guidance and staff are advised that they will need to respond to each person’s individual needs. Each situation and each service user is very different.
Although some of the information in the guide may seem like common sense, implementing these small actions can have a huge impact on the quality of service a person receives.
A copy of the guide can be found online here.
Equality and Diversity Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org / 029 2053 7635