Support for work with minority ethnic carers, service users and patients can be found in two areas of policy and legislation:
- Community care
- Race equality and anti-discrimination
Provision and guidance can be found within the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act (1995) the National Strategy for Carers in Scotland (2000) and the Community Care and Health Act (2002). The latter of these provides the most stringent guidance for working with minority ethnic carers and service users. Additional support for working within minority ethnic carers and patients can be found within the Scottish Executive’s Health Department letter 2002 entitled ‘Fair for All’. More generally, race equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act (1976) and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000) can also be used very effectively to underpin work with minority ethnic carers, service users and patients.
- Consider the legal duties and responsibilities that the local authority has towards Mr and Mrs Choy.
Keeping abreast of relevant policy and legislation and its application is a challenge that many practitioners face. It is not only new legislation that impacts on how we work with black and minority ethnic carers and service users but also new applications of existing legislation. For example, the Human Rights Act (1998) is increasingly being used to challenge poor treatment and negotiate improvements to services provided by a range of public bodies (‘The Human Rights Act – Changing Lives’, British Institute of Human Rights 2006). Both the language and the spirit of the Act affords considerable potential to improve services for minority ethnic communities.
The emergence of the Single Equalities Body – the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – is a further development that is set to have a significant impact on equality and diversity issues within Scotland and Great Britain. The new body replaces the three existing commissions – the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission – previously tasked with promoting and protecting equality of opportunity with regard to race, gender and disability. In addition to bring these three equality strands together the EHRC has been tasked with a further three strands – faith, age and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender).
Within this new environment the Scottish Government is currently undertaking a review of existing equalities legislation with a view to harmonising their respective powers. The ‘Equalities Review’ is expected to report by the end of the year and its outcomes may again change the face – or not – of the equality and diversity agenda in Scotland. It’s a case of ‘watch this space’.
For practitioners wishing to keep up to date with policy and legislation it is suggested that the Equality and Human Rights Commission website would provide a good starting point.