Ways of reflecting on and challenging discriminatory issues in health and social care

Some influences on our beliefs and values include:

* Culture

* Past events

* Socialisation

* Environmental influences

* Health and well-being

Culture and Beliefs

As we seen before that a person’s culture has the potential to clash with that of someone else. As a health or social care worker you must take care to make certain that your personal culture and your beliefs do not interfere with the caring service you provide to others.

Past events

The things that have happened to you, your friends and your family will all have a strong influence on the person you have develop into.

These events have more than likely influenced some of your health behaviours. For example, if you were afraid of the dentist as a young child, you may be unwilling to make regular appointments for your six-monthly check-ups. This in turn could influence your future decisions about your own children’s dental care and so the next generation is affected by something that happened in the past.


Socialisation is the process all human beings go through as they grow and develop. It is about learning to live in society. The way we are brought up, the people we mix with and the education we receive, all combine to influence our culture, beliefs and values.

Environment influences

The environment in which you are brought up has an influence, in addition to that of your family and friends, on your personal development. The influence of environment is so strong that stereotypical attitudes have grown and developed around certain situation.

For example:

* Council estates ‘breed’ work-shy individuals

* Troublemakers and drug users always live in high rise flats

* People who live on suburban estates are ‘nice people’.

These statements are clearly unacceptable – people must be judged on an individual basis and not have stereotypical labels applied to them. Some situations do have an influence but each individual will respond differently to them.

Health and well-being

People’s health status and sense of well-being can have a strong influence on the way they feel about themselves, on their beliefs and values, and on their consequent behavior. For most people, health and well-being are things that have the potential to change on a daily basis, depending on what is happening at the time. Many people who take medication would never describe themselves as ‘ill’. People with physical disabilities often do not describe themselves as disabled so why should we apply labels just because we work in the health and social care field. However, it is important recognize that if you do want to work in health and social care, your own level of health needs to be good. That is:

* You should be capable of carrying out the required work to a high standard

* You should not need to take significant amounts of time off work (think about your responsibilities to service users and team members)

* You should have a positive attitudes towards health and well-being

Developing greater self-awareness and tolerance of differences

It is very helpful to know yourself, and how you react to certain situation, if you are working in health and social. Having insight into your own beliefs and behaviours and where they come from is a useful starting point for changing negative attitudes.

Committing to the care value base

A good starting point for bringing about changes in your own attitudes and behaviours towards other people is to revisit the care value base. Think hard about what is asking you to do. If you cannot commit to the values outlined, you should not be considering a career in the caring service.

Careful use of language

Careful use of language is part of good communication which, in turn, is an underpinning value of the care value base. It is possible to discriminate against individuals or cause upset and confusion through your use of language. As we have already discussed, jargon should never be used with service users as they might not understand what we are saying (possibly excluding them from important information). Service users should always be enabled to use their preferred method of communication and it is part of your role and responsibility to help them do this. Another aspect of language use is related to your choice of words.

Clearly, swear words need to be avoided but so do discriminatory words and terms. It is important to be aware of ‘political correctness’ but it is also important not to take this too far and lose sight of the individual. Try to avoid using gender-based terms but don’t take it to extremes. For example, ‘chair’ is good option instead of ‘chairman’. It is also important to think before you speak because, in caring situation, your choices of words will greatly affect your relationship with other.

Working within legal, ethical and policy guidelines

If you wish to develop a career in health and social care you must work within the legal, ethical and policy guidelines that are in place. Think about current legislation and your views on this and the way it has the potential to affect both you and your service users. Working in health and social care is every rewarding but also extremely challenging, maintaining and promoting equality, diversity and rights is central to the caring process and without this, no matter how skilled and knowledgeable you are, you will never be successful with service users and employers.

Past events are things that have happened to you or to your family or your friends and will influence on the person you have developed into. So this has happened to Claire because she was involved in a road traffic accident when she was 17. Now at the age of 28 she still won’t learn to drive and prefers to use public transport this is because she doesn’t like what happened to her boyfriend and scared to drive a car. So Claire wouldn’t find driving safe even if someone she knows drives with her, she wouldn’t feel safe and so she prefers public transport because she feels safe and doesn’t have to worry about any accidents she would have. It will affect her in the future because she might want to go out with her friends and they might want to drive then she might get left out and might get upset because she can’t go. She might influence her development she had to her family and friends and they might not drive as well.

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