The health and aged care workforce must understand and support the diverse needs of older people to enhance their care experience. We previously identified five principles of diversity training for this workforce: awareness of unconscious bias and prejudice; promotion of inclusion; access and equity; appropriate engagement; and intersectionality. This study aims to explore how these principles are considered from the perspectives of older Australians.
Older people (≥65 years) receiving home care and nursing services based in Victoria, Australia were invited to participate in a home-based semi-structured interview about their experience of, or with, diversity. Interviews were thematically analysed using a priori categories based on our previous work on principles of diversity training, and themes were interpreted and expanded upon based on the participants’ experiences and understanding of diversity concepts and their care needs.
Fifteen older people (seven female, eight male), mean age 76 years (range 71–85 years), were interviewed. Five themes were drawn from the data. It was found that human connection through building (1)
trust and rapportwas highly valued as an approach by older people, crucial as a first step to understanding what is important to the older person. Identifying with (2) intersectionality, that is, the different intersecting aspects of who they are and their experiences was understood by the participants as an important framework to meet their needs. The participants were aware of (3) unconscious bias and prejudiceby health professionals and its impact on their care. Participants also noted that (4) promotion of inclusion through languagewas important to for a positive relationship with the healthcare worker. The participants understood that to facilitate human connection, these four principles of human interaction were critical, underpinned by (5) access and equityof the system. A model articulating these relationships was developed. Conclusion
Health and aged care training should incorporate the five diversity principles to support older people to participate in their own care.