Ending inequalities in end of life care: “We must listen to the lived experiences of oppression”

Categories: Care, Featured, and Opinion.
Bolton Hospice CEO Dr Leigh Vallance

Earlier this month Public Health England published a report confirming that people belonging to black and ethnic minority groups are more at risk from coronavirus. As part of our series on tackling inequalities in end of life care, the CEO of Bolton Hospice Dr Leigh Vallance tells us what actions the hospice has taken to support BAME staff & volunteers, and discusses the important role the hospice has in challenging racism and discrimination in Bolton.

In light of recent events associated with the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on people who are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), as well as the current and ongoing global discussion around racism, it’s important that we acknowledge the impact this is having on us all.

We have been very concerned about the impact Covid-19 could have on our BAME staff and volunteers, and are gathering as much information as possible to protect our workforce, in particular learn how we can support colleagues from a BAME background until more is known.

Here at Bolton Hospice we have put in place an additional risk assessment for BAME staff and volunteers to ensure we’ve done all we can to mitigate the risk until national guidance on supporting staff members from BAME backgrounds has been issued.

The global discussion addressing racism and black lives matter is also very pertinent, for Bolton Hospice prides itself on being open and inclusive and celebrating difference, including race and ethnicity. Our values are underpinned by positively embracing, valuing and respecting diversity.

As an organization funded by the people of Bolton to provide the very best palliative and end of life care, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are not only inclusive of all, but also supportive of tackling discrimination wherever we see it.

It’s important that we challenge racism in all its forms as well as learn about racism by listening to the lived experiences of oppression, rather than bury our heads in the sand to avoid uncomfortable discussions. We can learn and begin to understand how our conscious and unconscious actions affect others. This is something that we cover, discuss and learn about in our face-to-face diversity training which forms a part of our equality and diversity development strategy.

I know in both my personal and professional life the value of living with and alongside people who are different from me. I live and work in Bolton with people who come from all corners of the world and from a myriad of different backgrounds, and I believe that not only I, but also the hospice itself and society as a whole is a far, far better place for it as a result.

Diversity is enriching, racism is destructive, it’s a poison that we all have a duty to act as an antidote to by understanding not only the latent racism within ourselves but also challenging racism in others whenever we see it, in order for us to truly achieve being an open, inclusive, welcoming environment for all.

For more information visit Bolton Hospice