The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) has been awarded a Department of Social Services grant to develop, deliver and evaluate a new diversity education program.
The proposal includes 24 diversity education workshops delivered by RDNS diversity trainers across Australia, engaging 600 aged-care workers. Each workshop will run for a total of six hours, over one day.
The education resource will be based on RDNS’s diversity conceptual model – a visual tool that helps identify diversity characteristics that may be creating disadvantage and affecting a consumer’s ability to participate in their care and wellness.
“The main issue that I was trying to address was that diversity is a very, very broad term,” said RDNS diversity manager Jaklina Michael, who led the development of the model. “It’s not just about country of origin and language spoken at home.
“Current policy focus is on individual population groups defined by a shared diversity characteristic; for example, [cultural and linguistic diversity], Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, lesbians, gay [people], bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and people with dementia.
“Whilst this is valuable in improving awareness of the needs of populations with a shared diversity characteristic, it is increasingly evident that our community consists of people with multiple person-specific diversity characteristics that impact on equity of service access and care.”
She said aged-care service providers need to acknowledge the realities of people disadvantaged by more than one diversity characteristic and understand the impact of this on re-ablement and wellness approaches.
Professor Colette Browning, director of the RDNS Institute, said the success of initiatives like the education program relies on good training. “The person working in those settings needs to come in with an open mind,” Browning said. “They need to be able to recognise that the needs and goals of the patient or the client are paramount, and that the issues around someone’s culture or gender or sexuality may impact on the way they receive that service.
“They have to be able to adjust their services to meet those needs.”
Browning said the issues start early on in the training of health professionals. “I think right from the start, when they enter their training either in a degree or a diploma, we need to start addressing some of these issues to help health professionals understand they are going to be dealing with a diverse population,” she explained. “At any point it’s good to have this sort of training to orient people to diversity, but I would argue strongly that it’s important to put these types of models right in front of students at a very early point in their training.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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