Equality and Diversity Network
We welcome all individuals who work for Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board. The network acts as a forum, giving voice to staff so that they can engage with the ICB through events, talks and communications relating to equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and plans. You can view our Terms of Reference in the document library.
What does the staff network do?
Our people are our greatest asset. When we feel supported and happy in work, this positivity reaches those very people we are here for, the patients. Our staff network will support a fairer and more diverse NHS for everyone.
- tackle issues for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups and individuals.
- offer a place to come together, share experiences and facilitate learning and development.
- help shape and deliver our organisational strategy and policy.
- improve the staff experience on specific issues relating to each protected characteristic.
- arrange events to raise awareness and celebrate diversity.
What we’ve achieved in 2021
Our focus in 2021 was to promote and progress Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity around the Disabilities protected characteristic, especially those with Hidden Disabilities for those who work for the ICB and in the work of the ICB.
- Raised awareness around Asperger Syndrome, hearing difficulties, Downs Syndrome, Epilepsy, Autism, MS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Accessibility, Learning Disabilities and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dyslexia, Stammering and Sight awareness, World Hearing Day, World Alzheimer’s Day, National Coming Out Day World AIDS day, Ramadan Awareness for Employers
- Submitted a video entry to Warwickshire Online Pride event, the submission included a Diversity Poem read by staff as well as ‘The Rainbow Story’ read by Zubair Khan our lay member on the governing body.
- Provided resources around Unconscious Bias and Micro-Aggressions
- Shared national advice on supporting the LGBTQ+ population through COVID-19 and beyond
- Supported colleagues affected by events in India
- Organised Social Event for Network Staff
- Made a submission to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2022
- Signed up to the Race at Work Charter
- Provided a second round of Reverse Mentoring
- Organised a Black History Month: What are you proud of?’
- Shared daily resources for National Inclusion Week
- Provided Staff Training based on suggestions and information provided from staff, around: Unconscious Bias, Dyslexia and Neurodiversity – Performance in the Workplace, Anxiety Disorders and Stress, Bipolar & Depression, Deaf Awareness Training
- Shared Disability Guides
- Encouraged staff to join National EDI Networks
- Made recommendations to the ICB following the Trans Patient Healthcare Report and also the Workshop Attendance Staff Engagement Report.
- Collated an EDI Question for Recruitment Panels
- Contributed to deciding the new ICS Values
- Carried out a Cultural Holidays Survey
- Provided an online Signature British Sign Language (BSL) for Beginners to staff
- Provided advice around EDI terminology.
- Organised Religious Visits to places of worship
- Provided feedback to the System BAME Healthcare Engagement Collaborative involvement
What we achieved in 2020
Our focus in 2020 was race. You can view our full 2020 work programme here.
- Black History Month information circulated to staff across ICBs
- Future learn courses offered to staff across ICBs
- Report Hate Crime Training delivered to staff across ICBs
- LGBT History Month displays and information circulated
- Rainbow Badges Initiative deployment across ICBs and Primary Care
- Reducing inequalities in BME patient experience of cancer care videos- raised awareness through Cancer Leads
- Improved capturing of Demographic Of Staff
- Provided access to National and Local Webinars on Impact of COVID-19 on BAME
- Reverse Mentoring sessions implemented with Execs as mentees.
Priority of areas to focus on for 2022
The network agreed that the areas of focus will be based on the areas that have been identified by the staff the highest three are: Disability, Age and Race.
World Hearing Day
Thursday 3 March marks World Hearing Day. According to RNID (The Royal National Institute for Deaf People) 1 in 5 adults in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing and 1 in 8 suffer with tinnitus (sounds like ringing or whistling in our heads or ears). Hearing loss can happen gradually so we may not notice it at first but common signs to look out for include:
- turning the TV up louder than your family wants it
- finding it hard to follow conversation in pubs and restaurants
- struggling to hear on the phone
- often asking people to repeat what they say
- finding your partner complain that you don’t listen to them
- feeling that other people mumble
If we think we have hearing loss we should get a hearing test. The RNID have a free online hearing test which may give an indication of any hearing loss but is not a substitute for a proper examination. It takes about 3 minutes. For a full hearing test we can either see our GP or get tested at a high street chain or independent clinic privately. These tests are often free and if they show we need hearing aids we can either speak to our GP for a referral to an audiology clinic for free hearing aids or buy them from a private hearing aid clinic.
We spoke to three colleagues who agreed to share their experiences of hearing loss.
We’d like to thank them for being so open and honest and helping to raise awareness of this issue.
Q1. How and when were you first diagnosed with a hearing problem?
Colleague 1: At about 2 years old my mum suspected that I may be deaf because it seemed like I would ignore her when she called me or verbally tried to get my attention. At 4 years old I had a hearing test at school and from there was referred to an audiologist and got my first hearing aid. These days though I think new-born babies receive hearing tests so deafness in children may be picked up sooner.
Colleague 2: I suspected I was hard of hearing when I was in my mid 30s but did not act on this until late 40s when it was becoming increasingly noticeable especially when watching and listening to the TV with actors who had accents. I went for a private hearing aid test at Boots where they confirmed that I had hearing difficulties.
Colleague 3: I was diagnosed with Age Related Hearing Loss around 6 or 7 years ago after struggling to hear conversations with family and colleagues and hearing the television. I finally admitted to myself I had a problem and went to my GP who referred me to audiology for a hearing test. Following a very thorough hearing test the results showed Aged Related Hearing loss in both ears and that hearing aids would be required. I was so shocked and upset at the thought of having to wear hearing aids that I almost burst into tears when I came out of the audiologists office. I managed to hold it together because I knew I did definitely need them and it was just the stark reality hitting home.
Q2. What are some of the challenges you face on a daily basis?
Colleague 1: I’m used to my level of hearing so it’s hard to define things as daily challenges when you live with it all the time. I watch TV with subtitles (mainly because I don’t want the neighbours to complain about the volume) so when people object to my request for subtitles I don’t think they realise that I’m forced to sit and watch things not hearing everything which is boring and really frustrating. It’s weird to think you can be sat amongst a group of people and still feel isolated.
Another thing I find difficult is taking phone calls with people that are on speakerphone – the volume in their voices just isn’t there plus there’s background noise that I can’t filter out. I’ve asked family members not to speak to me on speakerphone and if they do or refuse I just put the phone down. If it’s important then they’ll comply.
Am I right in thinking that there’s only so many times you can ask somebody to repeat something before it starts getting a bit awkward? I tend to think that if you ask someone to repeat something it’s because a) they didn’t understand what you said or b) they didn’t hear what you said. It would help massively if people increased the volume when they’re asked to repeat something rather than having to ‘out’ myself as deaf just to get someone to speak a bit louder.
Colleague 2: I totally agree with the comments about feeling isolated and the difficulty with callers on speakerphone. People get frustrated with me asking them to repeat things too ☹
I really liked the hearing aids that I purchased privately from Boots– they were small and adjustable however we had a new puppy who sniffed out anything that smelled of me and he ate the aids! £2,500! I then got a referral to Specsavers – bigger aids not so sensitive or adjustable. Wearing hearing aids in an open plan office can be challenging because they pick up all noises and not just what you need to listen to so it can be very intrusive. I worked with someone who had a whistle in their voice which the aid picked up which was really annoying
There is also the issue of the alert when the battery is about to go flat – this can happen every other day and sometimes when you’re in the middle of presenting something which can affect your confidence and performance. Sometimes when the batteries go flat you have to rustle around trying to find replacements … it’s so intrusive to your day. Also, when you hold anything close to your ear the aid can whistle – really disturbing when talking on the phone.
Working in the pandemic with masks and glasses is a nightmare your glasses steam up and you have 3 things to tuck behind your ear…. I only have little ears so I take my aids out then I am only deaf and not blind and deaf.
Colleague 3: I agree it can very awkward and embarrassing especially in shops when the assistant asks you a question and you reply with a totally different answer as you did not hear them correctly. Also the telephone can be tricky as sometimes when you have hearing aids in you get ‘feedback’ and then you get a whistling sound from your hearing aids. Also asking family and colleagues to repeat themselves is embarrassing and asking ‘what did they say’ over and over again whilst watching television.
On a more personal level I was worried that some people may laugh and make jokes about my hearing aids and hearing loss and I was conscious of whether people could see my hearing aids.
Q3. In your experience what are common misconceptions about deaf/hard of hearing persons?
Colleague 1: I think people think that wearing a hearing aid or two resolves everything but in my experience they just present a whole new set of problems. They help to increase the volume of sounds but unlike normal hearing (with no hearing aids) it’s impossible to filter out noise or focus in on one sound. You get everything all at once. Also, sounds are tinny. I’ve just never been able to get used to hearing aids. Socially, on a night out wearing hearing aids? Forget it. Can’t do it. And wearing hearing aids in an open-plan office… you can literally hear every key stroke from everyone. I often think “Do I need to hear this? Does it enrich my life to hear the door creak, high heel shoes walk past me or someone in the next room coughing?” It’s often why I don’t bother wearing hearing aids a lot of the time.
Colleague 2: I think if you ask people to repeat themselves because you have not heard there is an assumption sometimes that you don’t understand. My partner shouts at me sometimes when he has had to repeat himself a couple of times – and I respond saying I am not that deaf !!!
Colleague 3: I think the most worrying thing for me was that people would think that because I had hearing aids I could not possibly do my job properly and I could not possibly understand what is going on in meetings if I cannot hear. However, hearing aids have improved my hearing (I can certainly tell when I am wearing them and when I am not) and I am fine in meetings. I agree that sometimes with hearing aids you do get tinny sounds and some things are very loud – even the sound of the clock ticking can be irritating. I remember getting on the bus just after receiving my hearing aids and someone right at the front of the bus opened a packet of crisps and was so loud it frightened me for a minute as I wondered what is was!
Q4. What’s a positive to being deaf/hard of hearing?
Colleague 1: Is it a positive? not sure… I’ll explain. During some meetings that might have a deaf person present should some people decide to have a confidential conversation to one side or discuss some other topic, that conversation might not be so confidential or quiet depending on the equipment the deaf person has in use. The same goes for an open plan office. There is one piece of equipment called a Roger Pen – it looks like a pen but it receives sound in any direction that it’s pointed and sends the sound to the deaf person’s hearing aid. Though typically a meeting that’s round a table the deaf person might put their roger pen in the centre of the table and it will pick up all sounds round that table. Unfortunately it will also pick up people tapping the table, ruffles of paper sounds and feedback should someone pick it up thinking “ooh what a nice pen”.
I’ve got to admit if there’s noise I just don’t want to hear I have the choice to remove my hearing aids.
Colleague 2: I hate it when people try to whisper something to me The only positive thing for me is that I understand how other deaf people feel. I understand the challenges of wearing an aid and understand its not always the solution. I work with older people and I understand the importance of a functioning hearing aid so always consider this, ie cleaning batteries etc in my work. I am more patient as a result with my relatives who are hearing aid users and support them in the maintenance, cleaning etc. I am aware when people are not joining in socially because they may not be able to hear and adjust my communication style or consider where they sit.
Colleague 3: I think the only positive is that hearing aids do restore some sort of ‘normality’ to your life and you have to think positive and say ‘it won’t beat me – I am one of thousands that wear hearing aids’ Look what Rose achieved on Strictly Come Dancing – it was not a barrier for her! You have to take that first positive step and admit to yourself that you have a hearing problem and help is out there.
Once again this year Warwickshire Pride held their annual event online on Saturday 21st August 2021 celebrating the LGBTQ+ community to ensure that all people feel valued and included in society, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. For the second year running the EDI network has submitted their contribution on behalf of the ICB – here is a link to the video. The submission included a Diversity Poem read by staff as well as ‘The Rainbow Story’ read by Zubair Khan our lay member on the governing body.
Follow Up Resources and Learning Activities
Please see below Unconscious Bias and Micro-Aggressions May 2021 final deck attachment, to access some training that was delivered by Ann Allcock, Marshalls Learning Consultancy on 27th May 2021, through the Inclusion School Summer Masterclass event. The talk reflected on
- what Unconscious Bias is and how it affects our interactions with others
- Micro-behaviours – what they are and how they can include and exclude Unconscious Bias and ways to minimise negative impact
- Moving from Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion our day-to-day actions and behaviours
Also please see below Tackling unconscious bias and microaggressions at work PEOPLE MANAGEMENT, 30 Oct 2020, By Nadjia Zychowicz which provides some ideas on work placed suggestions.
The Rainbow Badges is an initiative that gives staff a way to show that healthcare staff offer open, non-judgmental and inclusive care for patients and their families, who identify as LGBT+. By choosing to wear the badge, you are sending a message that ‘you can talk to me’. The wearer isn’t expected to have the answers to all issues and concerns but they are a friendly ear, and will know how to signpost people to the support available. This scheme has been rolled out within the ICB and also across Primary Care in the Coventry, Rugby and Warwickshire North areas.