At work and in the community, the self-esteem, performance, and job satisfaction of employees with disabilities are profoundly impacted by the attitudes of co-workers and peers. Negative attitudes in the workplace or social circles are often the greatest barriers to inclusion and career advancement for people with disabilities (even in an environment with a strong commitment to these policies.)
Here are 11 ways that you can help create a more inclusive society and workplace:
1. Consider Unique Needs
COVID-19 has thrown up the need to include palliatives in plans for epidemic preparedness. Still, we must ensure that the unique needs of persons with disabilities are considered when planning for palliatives.
For example, food must be taken to residences of persons with disabilities instead of expecting them to come to central collection points. When national security requirements may interfere with services, governments must find other ways of ensuring that persons living with disabilities are not denied their rights. Furthermore, other palliatives, such as dedicating caregivers to persons with disabilities, would better ensure their needs are fully met. Ndis services can help in the process. Click at easecare.com.au and know more.
Governments and civil society organizations must work closely with associations of persons living with disabilities to coordinate care, provide support, and protect their rights.
Such associations know their members, the types of disabilities, their particular needs, and where they live. These associations also have established ways of reaching out to their members and protecting their rights.
3. Focus On Primary Care
It is important to strengthen primary health care for persons with disabilities. Many barriers prevent persons with disabilities from accessing emergency care at specialist hospitals. Therefore, care needs to be provided at the primary health care level, close to where they reside.
To achieve this, community health workers who can do home visits should be trained to offer non-specialized services, stabilize the patient, and accompany them to specialist hospitals if there is a need. A functional referral pathway is needed to ensure a continuity of care.
4. Develop A Patient-Centered Approach
Health care for people living with disabilities must develop a patient-centered approach with individualized care. People living with disabilities, first and foremost, must not be denied the right to choose — nor should their family if they are unable.
They must have the choice to select alternate options and opt out of being categorized generically as someone whose life is worth any less than the patient who is not with a disability.
The focus of treatment should be the condition and its associated challenges, never the disability. An ethical perspective to medical treatment of people with disabilities will lend dignity to the patient and respect for the opinions and wishes of the patient
5. Plan A Curriculum
Develop a curriculum on disability to be used in the professional training of all tiers of health professionals, particularly medical students, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and residents pursuing super specialties.
6. Ask First And Follow Their Lead
Don’t assume people need help. Ask if they need anything to make the process more effective or easier for them. They are the experts on their needs and how to meet them best. If they ask for help, ask for specific instructions on how you can help.
7. Speak Clearly, Listen Well
If you are working with a person who has a developmental disability or other cognitive issues, use clear sentences, simple words, and concrete concepts. Gauge the pace, complexity, and vocabulary of your speech to match theirs. Unless you are informed otherwise, remember they can make their own decisions. Allow people with speech impairments to finish their sentences. Don’t talk for them or interrupt them.
8. Speak Directly To People
Make eye contact and speak to people directly, even if their care attendant or interpreter is with them. When a person who is deaf has an interpreter, the user will look at the interpreter as you are talking. While this is happening, focus on your interaction with the user. Also, if you will be speaking for some time with a person in a wheelchair, sit down, so they don’t have to strain their neck to look up at you. Do not lean over a person in a wheelchair.
9. Be Aware Of Personal Space
Some people who use a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane, see these aids as part of their personal space. Similarly, never start to push someone’s wheelchair without first asking the occupant’s permission. Don’t touch, move or lean on mobility aids. This is also important for safety.
10. Be flexible to family members of people with disabilities
Many people with disabilities have family members who care for or provide companionship. In many cases, the spouse of a person with a disability may leave the workforce because of their spouse’s needs. Being flexible to the needs of family members keeps in the workforce and reduces any compounded impact on the household and the province’s labor force.
11. When Setting Meetings, Check Accessibility
Confirm a meeting place in advance of the meeting and send detailed instructions on the accessibility of the venue. Ask if there is anything you can do to prepare for the meeting to make sure everyone can participate fully.
Don’t forget that mistakes happen! The important thing to remember is to ask questions and take a person’s lead. Some of these tips can feel awkward the first time. Especially if you’re asking someone you’ve just met or are new to your company.
We naturally try to avoid awkwardness and may unknowingly avoid interacting with colleagues with a disability, creating a real feeling of exclusion in others. Once you get over that first time, it quickly gets easier. Conversely, asking someone about their disability gets more difficult and increasingly awkward every time you avoid them. Don’t let awkwardness get in the way.
Disabilities will touch every person’s life, personally or professionally. Everyone needs the knowledge, skill, and a plan, all of which can encourage respectful, inclusive, and fair treatment of all patients with disabilities who come to hospitals for care.
To be sure, these ideas will take time and resources to develop. However, because of the likelihood of another pandemic occurring, this is the time to prioritize the unique needs of people living with disabilities and develop plans for implementing them.
We must ensure no other person living with a disability dies because their rights are denied.