Diversity is about valuing peoples’ differences and addressing their different needs and situations. Valuing this diversity allows differing perspectives and ideas to influence situations, to be expressed and to be part of the way of thinking and acting.

The diversity of service users, carers and families we encounter in all areas of health care highlights the importance of cultural competency for individual practitioners as well as for services and organisations. You can find a definition of cultural competence in the next sub-unit.

This unit will help you to understand how equality and diversity impact on the delivery of person-centred, safe and effective care health services.

Understanding local equality and diversity

In this activity, you will look at Equality and Diversity from the level of the service you work in. You may want to link this with the ‘Your Health Board and equality outcomes’ learning activity in the Equality Legislation sub-unit.

Equality and diversity are not ‘add-ons’, but should be an essential part of how we deliver our services and how we work together.

Delivering on equality and diversity in the health service means that we are tackling barriers which might prevent some groups of people from accessing services. It also means that we are delivering services which meet the diverse needs of our patients, service users and carers.

This means that good equality and diversity practice ensures our services are accessible to all; ensures that everyone is treated with dignity and respect; supports involvement and self-management and supports improved outcomes for all.

To remind you, the protected characteristics defined in the Equality 2010 Act are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity

Although they are not protected characteristics, you also need to consider other factors including socioeconomic (e.g. poverty, homelessness, involvement with the criminal justice service) and geographical factors.

Think about how diversity is taken into account in your service by answering the following questions:

  • who accesses your services?
  • how do you ensure that equal access to services and treatment is provides for all?
  • what are the specific issues that people with any of the protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act (2010) may have?
  • what do you know about their needs and experiences?
  • how are or would these issues and needs be addressed in your work setting?

Valuing diversity

As you read in the introduction, diversity is about valuing peoples’ differences and addressing their different needs and situations.

To help you think about diversity in the context of your work setting, answer the following questions:

  • what examples of diversity can you identify in the patient/client group you are currently working with?
  • how do these factors influence the care you provide?
  • what examples of diversity can you identify amongst your colleagues?
  • how does this diversity add to the care provided?
  • what impact does this diversity have on the workplace culture and care provision?

Discuss what you have identified with your mentor and highlight areas of good practice and where there could be improvements. Discuss how the areas of good practice can be extended and how any improvements can happen. Record your discussion and reflections for your portfolio.

Person centred care

The 5 ‘Must Do with Me’ elements of person centred care can help you understand the perspectives of others.

You may also want to view the ‘Nothing About Me Without Me’ Young Carers in Forth Valley video. This YouTube video was made in partnership with young carers and focuses on their perspectives. You will find the link in the Resources section of this learning unit.

1.What matters to you? Discuss and agree personal outcomes and goals 
2.Who matters to you? The service should be flexible to assist every person using the service should be able to access to the people who matter most whenever they need them 
3.What information do you need? Individuals using the service should have full information that is timely and understandable to help them to make informed and shared decisions
4. Personalised contact. A systematic process should be put into place to ensure that how and when they will be contacted is clear and takes into account their personal preferences
5. Nothing about me without me. Individuals are always involved in communication, handovers and transitions at the level they choose

What actions can you take to ensure that individual’s preferences are taken into account in care provision?

Record what you have discussed or identified.

Cultural impact on healthcare

Within your healthcare setting, select a patient/client from a cultural background which differs from yours. Demonstrate how your understanding of a different culture and value system enables you to tailor healthcare to this patient/client.

You will find links to information that will help you in this activity in the resources section of this unit.

Religious care

This activity encourages you to think about how you take individuals' faith or religious beliefs into account. This includes patients/clients and colleagues.

It is in two parts:

1. Gathering information about religion and belief


  • the information about patients'/clients' religion or beliefs is recorded in your work setting?
  • how this information is used in planning and providing care?

2. Religion and faith

A Multi-Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff. (NES 2006) provides information about a range of religious or faith groups to help you to understand individuals’ beliefs and needs.

Look at the index of this resource and select a chapter that provides information about a faith that you are unfamiliar with.

Answer the following questions:

  • what are the key things that you have learned from this information?
  • how will this influence the care that you provide for members of this community? 
  • is there information that you could share with your team?

How can or should what you have read in this activity influence the care that you provide?

Record your reflections for your portfolio.

Spiritual care

This activity is in two parts:

1. Spiritual Care Matters - An Introductory Resource for All NHS Scotland Staff

The Spiritual Care Matters resource helps you to understand the importance of spiritual care in healthcare settings and its importance in your everyday work.
'We are trying to help people better understand the nature and importance of our humanity and individuality and to help each other to behave a bit more kindly in our dealings, in the belief that people who are valued have better health and wellbeing prospects through all their health episodes, their work and their relationships.' (See page 12 of the Spiritual Care Matters PDF).

Read the following sections of the Spiritual Care Matters:

  • 1.5 Why spiritual care is necessary and important (page 13)
  • 1.6 Spiritual care is happening already (page 14)
  • Chapter 6 Looking after one’s own spiritual well-being (page 40)

Reflect on the following questions:

  • what are the key things that you have learned from reading these sections of the resource?
  • how does this impact on your everyday work?

Record your reflections for your portfolio.

2. Your role in supporting spiritual care

Your role in spiritual care and being responsive to individuals' beliefs is only part of the wider picture. All Health Boards in Scotland have Spiritual Care Advisors. Find out how to access the Spiritual Care service in your work area and how you could contact advisors from individual faith or religious groups on behalf of patients/service users. If it is possible, contact the Spiritual Care service or advisor to find out more about their work and how you can work together.

Portfolio Activity

Keep a record of your findings, discussions and reflections from the above activities and remember to revisit this section as you discover new materials and understand more about equality and diversity and their influence on your work and interaction with colleagues, and about the changing health and social care needs of the population of Scotland.

Add an alert to your Flying Start NHS® portfolio and /or make a date in your diary to revisit this section of the Equality and Diversity unit.