The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on long-standing, structural race inequality in Britain. This paper aims to review historic patterns of ethnic diversity among the workforce employed in services for older people to present some of the lessons that can be learned from the pandemic.
A historical overview was undertaken of research about ethnic diversity in the social care workforce.
Too often, the ethnic diversity of the social care workforce has been taken as evidence that structural racial inequalities do not exist. Early evidence about the impact of coronavirus on workers from black and minority ethnic groups has led to initiatives aimed at reducing risk among social care employers in the independent sector and in local government. This offers a blueprint for further initiatives aimed at reducing ethnic inequalities and promoting ethnic diversity among the workforce supporting older people.
The increasing ethnic diversity of the older population and the UK labour force highlights the importance of efforts to address what is effective in reducing ethnic inequalities and what works in improving ethnic diversity within the social care workforce and among those using social care services for older people.
The ethnic makeup of the workforce reflects a complex reality based on multiple factors, including historical patterns of migration and gender and ethnic inequalities in the UK labour market.
This study was undertaken as part of the work of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King’s College London. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors alone and not the NIHR, NHS or its arm’s length bodies.
Manthorpe, J. and Moriarty, J. (2021), "Workforce ethnic diversity in older people’s care services: thinking back and thinking ahead in COVID-19 times", Working with Older People, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 170-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-12-2020-0061
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