Topics: Discrimination, Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Marriage Pages: 5 (1762 words) Published: May 12, 2014

The word equality is very often taken to mean treating everybody the same but this is not the case. People are fundamentally unique and have different needs and vulnerabilities at different times so to treat everybody in the same way would not be appropriate. The word fairness better describes how people should be treated so that they are treated with equality. Fairness requires that individuals receive that to which they are entitled and they experience equally good standards of service, similar consideration and respect. However the similar standard of service needs to be modified on the basis of the individuals need and not the need of the service. An equal opportunities approach requires that individuals are not treated differently merely on the basis of irrelevant criteria such as age, race, disability, gender or sexuality.

A recent example of this was when a Senior Care Support Worker went out to complete an assessment with a gay couple who wanted to sign up to the service as one partner had dementia. The couple had entered a Civil Partnership which means that their relationship is legally recognised and they must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters. On our assessment paperwork we only have ‘live in partner’ or ‘spouse’ to describe the relationship between couples and the SCSW rang me to ask which description should she use as the couple “weren’t really married”. I explained that actually by being Civil Partners they were ‘married’ and that their relationship had legal standing and they should be classed as ‘spouses’ rather than ‘live in partners’. I ensured that it was noted in the Care Plan that they were Civil Partners so that there was no misunderstanding by any staff member. The couple were pleased that we had recognised and acknowledged their relationship as they have met a lot of misunderstanding and discrimination from other service providers in the past.

There has been a huge improvement in discrimination issues since the introduction of anti-discriminatory legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Equal Pay Act 1970, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2006. In recent years there has been a change in approach to equality which is focusing much more positively on celebrating difference and diversity rather than seeing inequality as a barrier to be overcome. To promote this way of thinking the whole Team recently attended a day’s training with a trainer who has a very positive and inspiring approach to equality and diversity. The content of the training session was specifically designed to address some issues that had arisen within the Team over recent months. This included: making people aware of how their personal opinions should not be imposed on other individuals particularly in a way that causes hurt or distress personal opinions are just that and should not be made to seem like the opinions of the service people should acknowledge and respect the beliefs and practices of other people people are free to choose their own life styles and that choice should be respected

The training session went very well and everyone commented on how they had all learnt something new about equality and diversity although they had all been on previous training sessions and that the way in which the training had been designed and delivered had been excellent.

Balancing individual rights and professional duty of care

Capacity and Informed Choice

A recent emergency that we had illustrated the dilemma that sometimes arises when people’s capacity to make decisions is questioned and our duty of care is put to the test.

Recently an elderly gentleman, who cares for his wife who has had a stroke, was taken ill with a suspected heart attack at breakfast time on a Thursday morning. The attending paramedic rang the emergency line to ask for...
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