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Basically, is a pointer to the sensitivity nature of the profession and the methods that is required to proffer acceptable and correct care service to accommodate and embrace individual’s beliefs, values and culture and of course practitioners among other things must take cognisance of individual background to facilitate anti discriminatory practice in service delivery.
When implementing prevention programs to curb any form of discriminatory attitude ,some of the cogent factors that should be considered as sub set of cultural diversity are, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality, spirituality, and some other areas. Both the internal and external parts of human life can be considered as the understanding of culture. Among diverse of lots of ways to define culture, it can be viewed from the angle of experience, values, knowledge, attitudes, skills, ideas, tastes, and techniques which are transfer from one experienced person in the community to others.
Transmitters of culture are now families both immediate and nuclear, religious group, peer groups social groups, neighbours and professional organisations. Essentially it should be noted that element of culture and diversity are numerous, some cultural experiences could be are biological related factors, like physical stature and colour of skin, whereas others could be sociological related factors, like socioeconomic status and religious connection. Based on these variables it will be wrong and illogical to draw a conclusion regarding people based on the way they appear externally.
It has become imperative for social care practitioners to be very competent cultural, apart from the fact that this could improve the service delivery standard it will help immensely to help in the quest for anti discriminatory practice in this profession. Some of the importance of this anti discriminatory practice in this regards is that it will help to facilitate a serene atmosphere whereby social workers will be able to see it as a matter of responsibility to engage in proper conduct, effective ethical services and decision making. This will enable them to be more conscious about the value base of their service users and of course it will help to maintain an ethical standard that could ultimately serve as a platform on which a professional relationship that can facilitate and improve service delivery can be attained in the long run.
Civilization according to Obama can be described as equal respect for everybody without exception and a way of living a method of living. Obama B. (2006). In a similar vein, in a speech that was delivered by M. Martin in Dublin (2001) in regards to solving the problems of cultural diversity facing the health care sector in republic of Ireland. Martin stated in his speech that, diversity gives social care practitioners the privilege to develop their knowledge, mental know-how and the understanding of the problems associated with health sector diversity from two angles of both the clients and the staffs.
He also identify awareness and sensitivity training workshop for staff as a bench mark to resolving issues related to diversity in population. He suggested that such training should be projected towards enhancement of knowledge based development and skills in other to render effective services that are sensitive to cultural disparities.
Diversity according to Thompson, (2001: 34), is a term hugely being used to lay emphasis on the disparities between people, set of group or individuals, and the fact that such disparities can be viewed as a valuable asset that can be exploited rather than a challenge to be surmounted. Such disparities if not properly managed could result to discrimination and thus oppression can take place.
Moreover, social care workers do confront with lots of difficulties and barriers in the course of engaging with the young, aged, and the physically challenged as well. Ireland as a country is fast becoming a much more multi-cultural society where people are coming from diverse cultural and ethnical background obviously people’s ideas thought and expectations based on service delivery will definitely be conflicted , but it is expected that social care practitioners will manage all these issues as a matter of cultural competency. In recent times, it is now not unusual for a practitioner to work with a black or coloured people or somebody from eastern bloc. Nor is it unusual to work with a child from an ethnic minority in residential care.
Another important of anti discriminatory practice is that it will enable practitioners to have an insight to how human life and experience is characterise by diversity and how is germane to identity formations. Diversity as it may, can be viewed from intersectionality of different dimensions, these factors consist of gender, age, colour, religion, sexual orientation, class differences, culture, sex, physically challenged, immigration status, ethnic background, political ideology and national origin.
Social workers need to understand and placed ultimate premium of the fact that as a result of individual differences, somebody somehow might have experience or suffered from exploitation, marginalisation, oppression, poverty, exclusion and stigmatisation. Understanding this fact will not only help a practitioner to manage and deliver good service but will greatly assist to be able to deal effectively in handling individual’s need individually.
According to Worman, (2005) diversity can best be described as, the disparities that exist between people that ranges from both visible and non-visible. He identifies three different types of diversity: Social diversity which includes age, race, ethnicity and gender, Value diversity such as psychological differences based on personality and attitudes and Informational diversity which includes organisational differences in education, tenure and function. Rather than seeing this as the beginning and end of one the greatest challenges been faced by this profession it should be seen as a means to an end towards achieving a better service delivery.
Perhaps, one of the possible fruits of the challenges of cultural diversity is that it could chrysalises to discrimination talking about the client and the service deliverer. According to Laird, (2008) concerns with racism first emerged in the social-work profession back in the 1970s and during the 1980s major social-work texts emerged to regulate practice (Payne, 2005: 277). Thereafter, a new Diploma was introduced as a prerequisite which include antiracism practice a core module to be part of the prospectus.
Thompson’s advanced work on the ‘PCS analysis’, (1998, 2006) refers to the personal, cultural and structural levels at which discrimination can occur, as a means of identifying and combating oppression against ethnic service users. As a result of his research Thompson would say that the combination of personal and cultural predispositions can create an ethnocentric outlook. Ethnocentrism results in judging other distinctive groups of people according to the norms of one’s own group. This of course can create more problems rather than solution that ought to be the central major target of the carer and invariably it can lead to frustration on the part of the carer.
Practically, over time it has been proven that problems that arises from discrimination in service delivery if properly addressed and managed will ultimately enhance performance and this to a large extent will help to improve the lives of the clients. Some the discriminatory acts from recent research have their source from language and culture. Ireland for instance is now a cross multicultural country whereby we have huge number of people from Africa and Eastern bloc. This factor can make or mar service delivery effectiveness depending on how is applied. As observed by Share (2009), that practitioners and service users be aware that language and cultural barriers can mar the provision of effective and meaningful social care.
Also, anti discriminatory practice can necessitate the quest for knowledge and information to improve learning. To be effective at their job, Social Care Workers need to acquire the skills in dealing with culturally different co-workers, subordinates peers and clients. Powell (2004) points out that organisation are now very conscious of the pressing need to understand and respond to demographic trends in the modern employment force. Carer need to gain an awareness and understanding of the environment around them in order to provide effective supports to service users based on individual needs. Discrimination could be as a result of inability to understand or insufficient knowledge.
In sufficiency of knowledge is as good as being ignorance or lack of awareness of the needs and choices of an individual this can lead to complications and frustration on parties. This information may include dietary requirements and religious practices, cultural differences and language barriers or personal rituals.
Thomas (1991), observed that workplace diversity transcend beyond gender and race. It cut across people lifestyle, age, sexual preference, functional speciality and geographical location. The diverse nature and the methods to manage challenges that are coming from it has become a major priority for communities and organisations generally. Wilson (1997) observed that the new workforce is the changing workforce. For instance, today’s workforce comprise of more dual family earners, an older work force, more people of colour and ethnic minorities, more people with disabilities and more homosexual practitioners.
These set of new workers that falls within the groups earlier mentioned are more demanding and their expectation about the employee’s involvement is so great, Provision has to be made for better work and balance family and making information more accessible, legal frameworks should be in force in order to encourage the Irish workforce to acknowledge and appreciate diversity.
The Employment Equality Act 2004 and the Equal Status Act 2000forbid by law on different nine grounds the act of discrimination including race and membership of the travelling community. Section 24 of the Employment Equality Act 2004, states that it is projected towards the implementation of the principle that embrace treating people equally treatment irrespective of race and ethnic background, establishing a general framework for equal employment and occupation and equal treatment for men and women in regards to employment, vocational training and promotion.
As a social care worker, working in a diversity workforce, it becomes paramount to take cognisance of and respect such differences. Cultural diversity and ethnicity are not a new occurrence in Ireland. The Irish Travelling Community is synonymous with a long history of a strong cultural background and unified identity group that is peculiar to their clan. Only when these differences are acknowledged in a respectable manners and informing ourselves with regard to them can we be rest assured that these differences has been addressed.
Basically, understanding and valuing of differences are what equality and diversity are all about. It is about the creation of a suitable working atmosphere that acknowledges respects and harnesses difference. A fair environment allows everyone to contribute and gives the opportunity to all to fulfil their potential. Practitioners face many challenges in their everyday work environment. In stressful situations it is important to have support, for example, from the team a carer work with, the supervisor or even an individual co-worker.
Consistency is an important tool for any practitioner so as to provide the best service for the people that they work with. Powell (2004) explains that ignoring diversity may limit a team in its work to reach a required goal.
According to Powell, practitioners benefit from working in a multicultural environment as it teaches them a culture of inclusion and they can benefit from the range of skills and values that are present in wherever section they find themselves. This will eventually result to an environment that is devoid of discrimination and prejudice and ultimately both client and staff relationship will be greatly strengthened. In the present times of highly increasingly mobile and diverse modernised society the key requirement for social work practice to be effective is to imbibe the culture of adequate educational training and practice code of conduct that includes an understanding of minority ethnic cultures and sensitivity to inter-cultural perspectives.
The National Association of Social Workers (N.A.S.W) describes the responsibilities of social workers as to ‘act to expand choice and opportunity for all persons, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed and exploited people and groups.’ These standards heighten the acceptance and respect for diversity as a fundamental social work value. Share et al (2009) points out that many third level institutions providing social care courses integrate inter-cultural training as part of the prospectus.
Many organisations adopt diversity programmes to combat exclusion in the work place. “Social workers have a professional mandate to identify and challenge organisational systems and individual practices that compromise client service, choice and general well-being.” (Maidment et al, 2002: 399).
Constant rising in Ethnicity and social heterogeneity has been identified as one of the greatest and essential challenges militating against modern societies, and in the same way, one of the most significant opportunities in almost all the advanced countries of the world. One thing that is very certain that can be said about virtually all the modern societies is that is generations are going to be more diverse than ever in a foreseeable future.
According to Putnam (2007). He described in the theoretical tool kit of social science two diametrically opposed perspectives about the effects of diversity on social connections. One of those, he labelled the contact hypotheses which argues that diversity fosters interethnic tolerance and social solidarity.
The more we associate and make more contact with people who are different from us, it will enable us to overcome our initial hesitation and ignorance and come to trust them more. This is true in social care an example can be that the first time a service user would have had a black worker as a carer there could or would have being name calling because they did not know any better. In some cases this has improved as the client and carer have gotten to know each other and come to realise that the only difference is their culture and not what colour they are.
This essay has been able to observe and established that in order for social care work to be effective and fair, social care workers need to acknowledge differences and embrace them so as to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce. Racism has no place for the social care worker in the work place. Working with clients who have diverse needs can only serve to further teach a social care worker and enrich their practice, which in turn promotes their standard of professionalism and experience.
What is recommendable is that there are two sides to a coin, diversity as it may, in totality could be a blessing in disguise because it can propel a society towards achieving or providing the best and the most effective service delivery in the context of social care practice through all the possible learning and training processes that ranges from competency to ethical conducts for all the social care workers.
This essay has shown just what diversity is and what types of diversity challenge social care workers could encounter on a daily basis. It has also emphasised how important training and development is in order to give potential social care workers a prepared insight into how diversity can be managed and respected.
The world is a small place and social care workers need to recognise and embrace all cultures and their respective differences in order to further enhance their ability to help all service users in multicultural society like ours. Emphasis has been laid on some the importance of anti discriminatory practice in the context of this profession like better service delivery, enhancing good relationship, improve professionalism and help to facilitate cultural competence and ethical standard amongst others. All this factors put together will ultimately underpinned the future and best practice for this profession.
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