Equal Treatment of Individuals with Special needs in Healthcare – Australia

Introduction

Individuals with special needs, such as those with intellectual disabilities, are often not subjected to equal treatment, just as their rights are not always respected when using health care services. The society and the modern culture are also against these individuals, subjecting them to a further poor treatment, and not offering any form of support. This, however, can be controlled through the creative implementation of legislation, policies and many other ways to ensure that meaningful change is established in the lives of these individuals.

Equal Treatment of Individuals with Special needs in Healthcare

In Australia, the Equal Opportunity Act impacts the ways that services are made available for special needs individuals through many ways. This legislation uses a human rights based approach as guide to ensuring quality services and treatment for special needs individuals (Roberts et al.2013:15). Therefore, when offering health care services, human rights principles must be considered, and this also includes the rights of people with special needs. This legislation ensures accountability so as to protect individuals who are vulnerable to mistreatment.

The Social Care Act 2008 is yet another legislation that impacts how services are offered to people with special needs. It mainly focuses on the regulation of quality and safety standards in health and social care (Griffith & Tengnah 2010: 599). Therefore, people with special needs will also be able to receive high quality services and be protected from harm caused by poor quality services. In 1948, The World Health Organization declared that any person is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest health quality as a fundamental human right (Huxter 2013: 735).

Unfortunately, as much as the government is trying to promote the positive treatment of individuals with special needs, the society and culture are still working against the same goal. For instance, Huxter (2013: 736) argues that the mentally ill are being alienated in the society, and instead of being taken to healthcare facilities that will help them, a majority end up in prisons. Generally, these people are viewed by most cultures as abnormal. This is why they are stigmatized in the society and may not be encouraged to get the help they need. Huxter (2013: 736) further argues that it is possible that the Western societies’ attitudes towards health equity has not changed, despite the various changes in legislation and medical science.

In the modern Western culture, only a limited number of individuals actually care about the mentally ill and their special needs (Huxter 2013:740). This is why most of these people actually end up in prisons instead of mental facilities. Basically, the mentally ill are being treated just like criminals, despite the main issue here being their health. No one wants to be associated with ensuring they get the  health care they need.

Conclusion

The legislations and policies are ways that the government is using to ensure that all human beings are treated equally, with their rights being respected despite their mental and physical condition. This, however, is being limited by the fact that the society is still stuck to an outdated way of viewing the conditions of special needs individuals, mainly because of the modern Western culture. The legislation and policies play an important role in controlling negative behaviors and attitudes from the society so as to offer protection for the special needs individuals.

Bibliography

Griffith, R, & Tengnah, C 2010, ‘The Health and Social Care Act 2008’, British Journal of Community Nursing, vol. 15, no. 12, pp. 598-602.

Huxter, MJ 2013, ‘Prisons: the psychiatric institution of last resort?’, Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 735-743. Available from: 10.1111/jpm.12010. [19 February 2015].

Roberts, A, Townsend, S, Morris, J, Rushbrooke, E, Greenhill, B, Whitehead, R, Matthews, T, & Golding, L 2013, ‘Treat me Right, Treat me Equal: Using National Policy and Legislation to Create Positive Changes in Local Health Services for People with Intellectual Disabilities’, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 14-25. Available from: 10.1111/jar.12009. [19 February 2015].


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