P3: Describe the potential effects of discriminatory practice on those who use health or social care services.
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Discrimination has the potential to affect individuals in wide-ranging ways. In health and social care, the effects of discrimination can be catastrophic and even end in the death of a service user. Anyone planning a career in health and social care should be aware of the potential negative effects caused by discrimination. We will explore them here. Marginalisation As you might expect, marginalisation means being pushed to the margins of society. In other words, you are unable to participate fully in the health and social care services that are available.
Marginalisation can occur at both micro and macro levels. Governments have been accused of marginalising groups of the population in terms of their health and social care needs. Disempowerment People who are discriminated against (especially by powerful groups in society such as health care professionals) are often totally disempowered. This means they are not able to take action Individuals can be disempowered through another form of discrimination – ‘the health worker knows best’ syndrome. Low self-esteem and self-identity If we have high self-esteem and self-worth, it means that we appreciate our own worth and value ourselves highly. Conversely then, having low self-esteem means that we feel helpless and powerless to cope and can even feel depressed. People who are discriminated against are in real danger of developing low self-esteem, which can lead to them being unable to cope with life’s challenges and changes.
This is particularly important for those individuals who have to cope with illness or changes in their social condition. If they are to cope well, they need to believe in themselves and their ability to manage, whatever situation they are in. Health care workers need to pay attention to an individual’s self-esteem and constantly work at improving this – this is a good method for helping individuals to cope positively with their situation. Restricted opportunities Discrimination, as we have already seen, has the potential to prevent access to health and social care services. This could be through the attitudes and beliefs of the health care workers who fail to value all individuals or it could be through the effects of low self-esteem. Negative behaviours including aggression and criminality Another effect of discrimination can be seen in the behaviour of individuals. This is particularly noticeable in children, who often display negative behaviours in order to gain attention, even when that attention is negative! Adults and young people as a result of discrimination and low self-esteem can also display negative behavioural traits. However, in these cases the behaviour can take on a much more ‘sinister’ appearance. It may manifest itself as aggression towards those holding power (including health care professionals or those working in the employment and judicial services) and through criminal activity such as drug taking, burglary and physical violence.
Loss of rights
There have been cases in the national media of care homes, secure or forensic units (places of security for people with dangerous psychiatric behaviours) and individual carers being accused of systematically discriminating against the people in their care and overriding their individual rights by the use of power or force. Older, vulnerable people in residential or nursing care homes are at particular risk of abusive situations because of the high power base of those caring for them. There are occasions when statutory powers are used legitimately to override individual rights. In these cases, doctors and judges can take decisions together to place people in places of safety for their ‘own good’. Another example of the use of statutory powers in operation is when social workers need to work with others such as the police or medical service to take children from unsafe homes and place them in centres of safety.
Books Stretch, Beryl (Editor); Whitehouse, Mary (Editor). BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 1. Harlow, Essex, GBR: Pearson Education Limited, 2007. p 80.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/croydon/Doc?id=10299110&ppg=89 Copyright © 2007. Pearson Education Limited. All rights reserved. 25/07/13 15:25
Stretch, Beryl (Editor); Whitehouse, Mary (Editor). BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 1. Harlow, Essex, GBR: Pearson Education Limited, 2007. p 81.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/croydon/Doc?id=10299110&ppg=90 Copyright © 2007. Pearson Education Limited. All rights reserved. 15:26 Stretch, Beryl (Editor); Whitehouse, Mary (Editor). BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 1. Harlow, Essex, GBR: Pearson Education Limited, 2007. p 82.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/croydon/Doc?id=10299110&ppg=91 Copyright © 2007. Pearson Education Limited. All rights reserved.15:36