Achieving age equality in health and social care

Age discrimination has no place in a fair society, which values all its members and the principles and values which drive the NHS and social care require us to treat everyone fairly based on their needs, whatever their age.

The Equality Act and age equality

The Act places new duties on organisations and individuals to treat individuals fairly through ending discrimination and promoting equality. Alongside the other “protected characteristics”, such as race, gender, disability etc, the Act for the first time bans age discrimination in the provision of services and introduces a duty on public bodies to promote equality, including age equality. This audit tool has been developed because health and social care is one of the main areas in which people report experiencing age discrimination and expect age equality.

A complete age equality resource pack

Work on age equality will inform your existing work programme to address inequalities, and will help with adopting the proposed approach to improving equalities performance that will be set out in the Equality Delivery System (EDS), that will shortly be issued for consultation and subsequent implementation from April 2011. EDS sets out the actions for the NHS to drive up equality performance in the light of the White Paper Equity and excellence; liberating the NHS and the Equality Act.

This audit tool supports the EDS by focusing on the detail of the new requirements about age equality from the Equality Act. It is the first element of a three-part resource pack to help the local health and social care system prepare to meet the new age equality and discrimination legislation:

Age Equality Audit Tool

Enables partners to do a joint self-assessment and
create a gap analysis to highlight priorities for action and
inform local decisions and investments.

Sector-specific practice guides, with information about how and
why age discrimination occurs and examples of good practice to help
you to address identified gaps and priorities for achieving age equality.

Who should use the audit tool?

Local teams from across the health and social care system (one person can be delegated to enter responses).

How does it work?

The audit team assesses the local situation across four sets of criteria, covering organisational issues as well as specific services and settings. This assessment can be saved and used as the basis for action planning to achieve age equality. Performance can be re-evaluated after an agreed time to measure progress.

Why we need an audit tool and resource pack

The Achieving age equality in health and social care report by Sir Ian Carruthers OBE and Jan Ormondroyd (Department of Health, October 2009) highlighted the need for local authorities, NHS organisations, voluntary and independent sector providers, community groups, older people’s forums and networks to work together to undertake a joint audit of age discrimination and age equality across all services, systems and processes in health and social care.

The NHS Operating Framework (2010-11) says that the NHS should use the report’s recommendations in their work to prepare for the implementation of the Equality Act.

Getting started

Preparing for the audit will give you detailed information about selecting your audit team and preparing.

Definitions and framework tells you about the legal context, important concepts and timetable for completing your first audit.

Why age equality matters

Age discrimination is one of the least discussed but most often encountered forms of social injustice in the UK.

The number of people aged over 85 is set to double in the next two decades. It will become more important than ever to make sure that older people are treated fairly and play a full part in society.

Smiling Man
  • Most experiences of age discrimination involve insensitive behaviour and negative stereotypes about older people that are rooted in ageist attitudes.
  • The UK has a higher death rate from cancer than the rest of Western Europe and the USA for people over 75 years.
  • 60 per cent of people over 65 believe age discrimination exists in the everyday lives of older people, and 64 per cent think health and social care staff don’t always treat older people with dignity.
  • 41 per cent of all personal budgets (38,000) go to older people (end of March 2009).