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Equality and inclusion strategy – Adult Social Care and Health

Vision: Our commitment

Our services

We will promote equality and include residents, staff and partners in everything we do to improve the quality of life for everyone living in, working in and visiting East Sussex - to create a county of opportunity for all.

Our workforce

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is an organisation where diversity drives innovation. Progression is based on talent and there is a culture of fairness, respect and equality of opportunity for all staff.

We aim for our workforce profile to reflect the demographic make-up of East Sussex in every service and at every level, ensuring that we are better able to connect with the needs of the people of East Sussex.

Principles for change: our aims and values

As a service provider we will:

  • promote equality of opportunity and eliminate discrimination in the planning, commissioning and delivery of our services
  • equip our staff to understand and engage with all of East Sussex’s diverse communities
  • work with our partners, service providers and contractors to create a fairer East Sussex where everyone is treated with dignity and respect
  • recognise and celebrate the diversity of our local communities to foster good community relations, being sensitive to the particular needs that arise from that diversity
  • empower all our residents to build resilient communities
  • lead by example and embed equality in everything we do as an integral part of our policies and practice

Carers and Rurality are also key considerations for ESCC and are protected under the Act by association with protected groups. In effect, everyone shares some of these characteristics and so are protected from any form of unfairness.

Under the Act, public bodies are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires us to have due regard to:


Background: Why do we promote equality and diversity?

This is a three-year strategy that sets out our commitment to promoting equality and diversity across all services and within our workforce. We will monitor and review our objectives on an annual basis. Whilst the equality agenda is supported by legislation, it is not just about meeting our legal obligations, it is about making our services and procedures reflective and supportive of the diverse needs of our local community.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act came into force in October 2010. It includes legislation around the nine protected characteristics and public duties on ESCC with which we must comply. The groups protected under the law are:

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

Carers and Rurality are also key considerations for us and are protected under the Act by association with protected groups. In effect, everyone shares some of these characteristics and so are protected from any form of unfairness.

Under the Act, public bodies are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires us to have due regard to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act
  • advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups
  • foster good relations between people from different groups

This duty means we aim to remove or minimise any disadvantage that people may experience due to their protected characteristic. This includes taking action where the needs of people with certain protected characteristics are different from other people’s needs and encouraging them to take a greater part in public life and activities where this is disproportionately low.

Human Rights Act 1998

As well as the Equality Act 2010, the council is subject to the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 which sets out a framework for the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person from birth to death. The rights defined in this act and international law are:

  • Right to life
  • Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Right to liberty and security
  • Right to a fair trial
  • No punishment without law (under which people’s rights can be restricted if they break the law)
  • Respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
  • Freedom of thought, belief and religion
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of assembly and association
  • Right to marry and start a family
  • Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
  • Right to peaceful enjoyment of property
  • Right to education
  • Right to participate in free elections

The council is committed to ensuring that we consider every opportunity to promote or protect any relevant human rights in our policies, practices, functions and procedures. This includes making people aware of their human rights, so they can use the law to redress any potential or actual breaches affecting them.


Objectives and what we want to do by 2024

Priority 1: Know our communities

We want to get to know our communities better. This will enable us to understand the diverse needs of our service users and help us to target and use our resources better.

To achieve this, we will use these objectives:

  1. Project leads will make enhanced use of demographic and other data to inform their projects, commissioning and decision making.
  2. Project leads will carry out equality impact assessments, where relevant, to consider the effect of proposals, projects and strategies on different groups.
  3. We will progress opportunities to integrate understanding of health and social care information to better target community safety interventions to support vulnerable people in our communities.

Priority 2: Have inclusivity at the heart of service development and strengthening engagement with communities

We want to keep our residents and staff at the centre of our planning, service provision and development. This will help us to achieve better outcomes of social care provision.

To achieve this, we will use these objectives:

  1. We will agree and mandate the principle around inclusive service planning, commissioning, development, and engagement.
  2. We will develop a framework to support the inclusive approach: provide information on timeframes, support provided, Rewards and Recognition for participation as well as enhance our People Bank recruitment.
  3. We will work collaboratively across our Sussex Integrated Care System to ensure an inclusive approach to service planning, commissioning and development.
  4. We will strengthen existing mechanisms like Inclusion Advisory Group, People Bank, Experts by Experience Network to ensure residents’ input is included in the work at Adult Social Care and Health.
  5. We will set up Disability Reference Group and Race Equality Reference Group to help us get collective feedback from vulnerable and marginalised communities and residents.

Priority 3: Create a safe, fair and inclusive work environment

We want to create a safe, fair and inclusive work environment for our staff to make sure that service provision is the best it can be.

To achieve this, we will use these objectives:

  1. Our Departmental Management Team (DMT) and senior managers will be responsible for setting the tone and acceptability of the message around “Let’s talk about Equity”.
  2. We will produce communication materials on acceptability of language, behaviour towards staff and expected standards of delivery of service which is non-discriminatory and provides equal access to services across all strands of equality.
  3. We will work towards creating change in staff cultures. For example, our DMT paper format will have and Equality and Diversity section, Project Initiation Document (PIDs) will have equality considerations, meeting agendas will have an Equality and Diversity section.
  4. We will constructively think about behavioural insights and creating mechanisms to include people who may be resistant to working in an inclusive way.

Priority 4: Use robust data collection from service users and use of data for equality analysis

We want to strengthen our equality monitoring and use data to improve our equality analysis and service provision.

To achieve this, we will use these objectives:

  1. We will make data collection on all strands of equality mandatory so that we get robust data across all service areas.
  2. We will improvise our tools for data collection so meaningful data can be collected for use in our equality analysis processes.
  3. We will work with Corporate Equality Group to ensure that the Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) form is revised to include a separate category on social inclusion.

Priority 5: Strengthen Adult Social Care and Health staff practice and knowledge on all aspects of equality and human rights as they connect with ASCH work

Better informed staff will have the confidence to address issues of equality and diversity through strength-based practice.

To achieve this, we will use these objectives:

  1. We will create specific training for our staff at all levels which will reflect practice-based scenarios.
  2. We will ensure all middle-level and senior-level management attend and apply training that helps people challenge their behaviour, assumptions and enhances knowledge and skills on principles of equality and human rights.
  3. We will create Staff Equality Champions across all teams so that the work around equality, diversity and inclusion is right at the heart of our work.

Equality data for East Sussex

Age

32% of the population aged 18+ in East Sussex are older people (aged 65+). This is considerably higher than the national picture where 23% of the population in England is aged 65 and over.

As age increases, the proportion of the population that is female generally becomes higher. For those aged 90 and over, 68% of the population is female.

Gender

In East Sussex, 52% of the adult population is female and 48% male.

Ethnicity

8% of the adult population in East Sussex is from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background including White minority groups. This compares to 18.8% in England.

Rural or urban 

73.7% of the population in East Sussex lives in an urban area, with the remaining 26.3% living in a rural area.

Recording of protected characteristics

Recorded characteristics
Characteristic % recorded
Gender 100%
Age 100%
Ethnicity 98.8%
Religion 62.2%
Health condition 58.5%
Sexual orientation 21%
Marital status 9%
Pregnancy and maternity 1%
Gender identity / Transgender

Engagement on Equality and Inclusion Strategy

From October 2019 to March 2020, we met over 500 people to engage and consult with on our Equality and Inclusion Strategy. We met staff, residents, clients, carers and our partners. Here’s a list in the order we met them:

  • Community Relations Team
  • Management meeting at Milton Grange
  • ASCH Practice Managers
  • Inclusion Advisory Group
  • ASCH Commissioning Team
  • ASCH Operational Managers
  • Employee Representation Group
  • ASCH Senior Practitioners
  • Joint Community Rehabilitation Managers
  • Learning Disability Service Managers
  • Joint Community Rehabilitation SSW Meeting
  • Locality Link Workers
    Carers’ Break Service
  • ESSA Health and Community Care Theme Group
  • Information Matters Team
  • Client Affairs Team
  • BME Mental Health Cultural Reference Group
  • Information and Guidance and Organisational Development Team Meeting
  • CHC Practice Team
  • SSW Bexhill Hospital
  • Learning Disability Network Meeting
  • Health and Social Care Connect Teams
  • Conquest Hospital Discharge Team
  • Neighbourhood Support Team
  • Eastbourne and Lewes District Councils
  • Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Healthwatch East Sussex
  • Experts by Experience
  • Care for the Carers
  • Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group
  • ASCH People Bank

Glossary: Some definitions

Equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential. Equality is focused within a legislative framework – the main piece of legislation is the Equality Act 2010. The Act is designed to address unfair discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

There are nine ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the Equality Act: age, disability, gender reassignment (transgender), marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

Diversity involves more; it is about valuing the full range of differences between people in the workplace and the wider society.

Promoting diversity acknowledges that entry into the workplace, and an employee reaching their potential once there or a customer’s ability to access council services and opportunities can be impacted / influenced by a range of factors beyond the characteristics included within the equality legislation, including social, economic and educational background, professional background, hierarchal level, working styles. It involves an understanding of the perceptions and experiences of others – employee / customers belonging to minority and majority groups (and the impact of conscious and unconscious bias).

Diversity is also a description of the way an organisation looks and how well it serves its customers /population. It paints a picture of different types of people at different levels in the organisation and how well different customer needs are met in service planning, commissioning and delivery. This is the result of ‘harnessing and valuing difference’. – The legislation is an important element but the scope of diversity goes further than the ‘legal minimum’. It should be noted that diversity must be valued without (negatively) stereotyping difference so as to avoid any / perpetuating any inequalities.

Inclusion within the equality and diversity context is about including all people. The remit of Inclusion is a bit more and it is about the culture, environment and processes operated by the organisation. Inclusivity is measured by how people feel (results from how people are involved). It requires effort to be achieved. Inclusion is about the individual’s experience and the extent to which they feel valued and included. Working to achieve inclusion involves effectively managing change and a continuous effort to maintain diversity.