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Insight into Equality, diversity, and Inclusion in nursing

Nursing staff from diverse backgrounds stand together to pose for a photo.

Importance of Equality, diversity, and inclusion in nursing practice

Equality, diversity, and inclusion are crucial to the nursing profession in the UK today. The healthcare system in the UK is evolving, and it is important that healthcare providers, including nurses and other care workers, adapt to meet the needs of the diverse patient population. The UK nursing system is one of the most varied, with a staff made up of people from many ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. The significance of equality, diversity, and inclusion in nursing cannot be understated; it has a tremendous impact on the quality of care offered to patients

In this article, we will be looking at the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion in nursing and patient care. 

What are equality, diversity, and inclusion?

Equality means making sure that everyone has access to equal opportunities, regardless of their abilities, their background, or their lifestyle. One example of workplace equality is ensuring that everyone understands how your rewards and recognition programme works and clearly expressing why someone has gotten an award and how others can as well. Furthermore, in patient care, equitable treatment does not imply that every patient receives the same care and support. Some patients might need more care due to their illness and condition, while others might just need support services. 

Diversity, on the other hand, is respecting differences among people and honouring their values, beliefs, traditions, and lifestyles with dignity. It also involves differences between people in terms of religion, age, race, and gender. These differences can be visible or invisible. When it comes to providing high-quality healthcare, diversity can be beneficial since it allows for different cultures within a community. Diversity enables people to better grasp the issues that specific populations confront and change services accordingly. Furthermore, a diverse workforce can aid in addressing healthcare disparities that exist among various patient populations. 

Finally, inclusion is described as a setting in which everyone feels welcome, valued, and capable of contributing. Nurses who feel engaged and respected are more likely to be satisfied with their work and to offer high-quality care in the UK. Furthermore, building an inclusive atmosphere that embraces diversity and equality can aid in the recruitment and retention of nurses from varied backgrounds. An inclusive culture in a nursing facility makes the employees feel that there are no barriers to being open and true to themselves. 

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity, as mentioned above, is the difference in the workforce based on various factors. It also extends beyond what people look and sound like; these are known as non-visible characteristics. For example, factors such as sexual orientation, education, socio-economic background, and neurodivergence. A diverse environment is something that needs to be valued and is proven to have a positive impact on the nursing system as a whole. Presently, nursing establishments try to be diverse through headcount (e.g., geographical representation), but active recruitment from underrepresented groups is not followed. 

It is also important to understand that diversity without inclusion is meaningless, especially when the voices of diverse groups are not heard. However, being diverse means that you are inclusive, even though that is not the case. 

Equity vs. Equality

Equity implies that everyone has the same chances for achievement. However, there are circumstances where not everyone gets the same opportunities due to race, gender, income, sexuality, or another defining factor.

Both equity and equality promote fairness. However, equality achieves this by treating everyone the same, whereas equity does so by treating people differently depending on their needs. To establish equality, equity is required to provide everyone with the same opportunity. 

Significance of diversity, inclusion, and equality in nursing in the UK 

Diversity, inclusion, and equality are critical in the nursing profession in the UK since they promote improved patient outcomes and nurse and healthcare staff retention. Nurses from various origins bring with them varied perspectives and experiences that might help patients. 

A diverse nursing workforce can also help address healthcare disparities across patient communities. When healthcare professionals who share their cultural backgrounds treat patients, they are more likely to receive culturally competent care. 

In addition, when nurses feel included despite their differences, they have a sense of belongingness to all nurses. Nurses who feel engaged and respected in their work are more likely to be satisfied and to give high-quality care. Furthermore, fostering an inclusive work atmosphere that promotes diversity and equality can aid in the recruitment and retention of nurses from varied backgrounds. 

Challenges to diversity, inclusion, and equality in nursing in the UK

Though diversity, inclusion, and equality in the healthcare system are important, there are several factors and challenges faced by the nursing profession in fully embracing these values. One of the major factors is the lack of diversity in nursing leadership jobs. 

According to a UK government estimate, of the 1.3 million (June 2022) nurses employed in the NHS whose ethnicity was known, 74.3% were white and 25.7% were from ethnic minority groups (excluding white minority groups). Ethnic minority staff made up 15.0% of people in managerial-level positions and 11.3% of senior managerial-level positions in the UK. This lack of diversity in administrative positions can make promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the nursing profession difficult. 

Another challenge is the lack of competency training for the nurses, making it difficult for them to provide culturally competent service to patients from diverse backgrounds. This lack of competency can create misunderstandings and miscommunications between patients and nurses, which will severely affect patient care and outcomes in the UK. 

Furthermore, in the UK, there is a significant gender pay gap in nursing, with male nurses earning more than female nurses. This gender pay gap can create a feeling of inequality and injustice among female nurses, which can impact their job satisfaction and overall performance. 

How to measure equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) in the UK?

The best way to know how employees feel about their work culture is typically through anonymous surveys. Such surveys will help nursing organisations understand how inclusive they feel about their job, where they are lacking, and how to improve the situation. It also helps identify how the experience differs between the chosen demographic groups. 

This is just one example; there are various ways in which ED&I can be measured, and depending on the nursing facilities, it can vary. 

What are the strategies for promoting diversity, inclusion, and equality in nursing in the UK?

There are various ways that can be utilised to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equality in nursing in the UK. 

One of the most important strategies is to increase the number of nursing leadership positions. This can be accomplished by assisting nurses from varied backgrounds in advancing their careers by providing proper training and expanding their possibilities. 

Another strategy is to provide cultural competency training to all the nurses in the UK. Such training can help nurses understand patients from various cultural backgrounds, provide better patient care, and improve outcomes. 

Furthermore, addressing the gender pay gap in nursing is crucial for promoting equality. Implementing pay equality policies and ensuring that all nurses receive equal compensation for the same amount of work will help to ensure this. 

Though diversity, inclusion, and equality are crucial factors in the nursing profession in the UK, there are various challenges, as aforementioned, that prevent them from being in place. However, the UK government, general public, nursing professionals, and healthcare settings should work together to achieve diversity, inclusion, and equality in the healthcare system. 

Nurses Group understands the importance of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the field of nursing and provides our agency nurses with adequate training. This enables them to provide the best possible care to patients while also improving the patient outcomes of the healthcare facility where they are assigned to work. 


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