Developing diversity sensitive care through training of students and professionals in social and health care

Our D.I.S.C.O.P.M.B. -project promotes diversity sensitive care practices through three main approaches: developing diversity sensitive care training program for higher education, developing online training materials for professionals and preparing policy recommendations for more equal care in European societies. Partnership in the project brings new insight to the work all the partners have already made in their own countries. And it gives a platform for the partners to bring forward their experiences and knowledge of diversity sensitive care from different approaches. In the partnership there are those who are experts in higher education, those who are experts on advocacy work and those who work closely with older migrants and their families in everyday life. Being part of this project has already been very interesting and partners are keen on bringing their own experiences and specific knowledge from different perspectives.

The project’s mission is to bring awareness to the older migrants and their families who may not have many places to go for social support, and whom may have f.ex. language barriers in the society they live in, which makes it challenging for them to access social and health services. When we are working with older migrants from day to day basis we start to understand that people are very diverse, even within a single language group. In practice we should try to avoid using the term migrant and useolder person instead, because people’s backgrounds are very diverse, and it is important to see the whole person and not just one part of them.

The materials used in higher education now, need to be developed towards diversity, because otherwise minorities are invisible and future professionals are given only one story of the society. In addition to that, competence development must be offered to those already in the working life, because otherwise the usage of outdated knowledge will continue. In European countries we have traditionally developed our service systems based on ideals like universalism, which in fact does not work when we have diverse populations. Societies may have been looked from a homogenous point of view, where minorities are not fully recognized as part of the whole society, which has more over lead to social and health services that work for majority but not always for the minorities.

D.I.S.C.O.P.M.B. -project also supports the partner organizations own advocacy work for building a more equal and accessible society for older persons. Without advocacy work, there won’t be a change in the social and health care services even though the societies in European countries are becoming more and more diverse every day. This project will bring awareness of invisible and visible barriers and gaps that the older people with diverse backgrounds come across in services. We will soon start to collect stories from our group members who belong to language minorities through the storytelling method. These stories will be used in the training materials and programs which will be developed through the project, so we encourage you to stay tuned 😊

Photo: Members of Jade yhteisö ry, Oct. 2018 Finland, by Katja Tähjä