Embedding equality through training


08 / 04 / 2011

  • The organisation

  • What we did and why

  • How we did it

  • Results and next steps

  • Further information and contact details


  • The organisation

    Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust became one of the first foundation trusts in April 2004, building on a 250 year old tradition of providing quality healthcare services for local people.

    The trust employs around 6,500 staff and serves a population of approximately 350,000 people in Exeter, East and Mid Devon and specialist services such as cancer care, plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopaedic surgery, paediatric care and renal services to people living further afield in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Somerset.

    What we did and why

    The trust has a major commitment in its Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR/OD) strategy to increase staff engagement.  The trust believes equality and diversity must be well embedded in its organisational culture if staff are to be engaged.

    In January 2009,  Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust employed an equality and diversity specialist, whos priority has been to raise the profile of equality and diversity, so it is truly embedded in the trusts organisational culture.

    The trust is achieving this largely through an innovative, high-profile training strategy, which has so far reached over 4,000 staff and has stimulated interest in equality and diversity across the organisation. 

    The training is adapted to different audiences ensuring that there is effective communcation with “hard to reach” groups. The trust has developed specific approaches for medics (who can be cynical about the relevance to equality for their job) and facilities staff (who are often hard to release for face to face training and need a very direct message).  It is proving an open-ended project, as the initial training offer has provoked wider interest in the subject and so opened further opportunities to train and communicate the message.

    How we did it

    The organisational need was to embed a culture which values equality and diversity, promotes the pledges within the NHS Constitution to patients and staff and realises the business benefits outlined below.

    Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust's evidence base that underpins its approach is:

    • learning lies with “androgogy” (the theoretical model of adult learning)
    • associated brain theory, which shows that learning is best when it engages most aspects of the personality. 

    The trust aims to embed the equality message wherever possible. The traditional 'equality course' is delivered, but they have gone beyond that offering training across the following:

    • a significant slot on equality in the staff induction
    • a staff update, which has been adapted to fit a range of staff groups
    • specialist equality training, for example one course on disability awareness and another on recruitment
    • a specially tailored equality course for example, training for mentors and preceptors and assistant practitioners.
    • “Trouble shooting “ for staff or teams where there are known equality issues

    The trust has made a major resource commitment to deliver most of the training face to face as this gives an opportunity to engage staff personally and directly, in training material which is participative, amusing and has emotional impact. The trust monitors the following:

    • numbers trained
    • patterns of uptake
    • number of courses / training activities offered.
    • participant evaluation

    All directorates have been given a performance indicator which reflects the proportion of staff who are 'in date' for their KSF equality competence. They are held to account for their performance against this indicator by the Board, at their quarterly reviews. This ensures corporate ownership of the equality training.

    The trust has developed a formal infrastructure to underpin this, with an Essential Learning Group ensuring that there is sound data gathering, recording and monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure delivery of all mandatory training, including equality and diversity.

    Results and next steps

    Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trusts approach has been recognised nationally, achieving second place in the equality and diversity category of the Healthcare People Management Association awards for 2010. At an organisatinal level, results are seen in terms of organisational development at both individual and corporate level.

    The impact on individuals can be seen in the evaluation forms, which seek views on the effectiveness of the event, as well as on how attendees expect their behaviour to change, as a result. These show clearly that staff are enjoying the learning experience and committing to change as a result.

    The staff survey shows the following:
    Results reported in 2009 

    • 28% of staff had received equality training in last 12 months.
    • 27% of non-white staff experienced racial discrimination

    Results reported in 2010

    • 52% of staff had received equality training in last 12 months
      (Top 20% of Trusts.)
    • 35% of non-white staff experienced racial discrimination.

    The next steps for the trust are:

    • to continue to broaden and improve the training offer, for example, sessions about to be offered in age awareness
    • to measure the impact long-term, through tracking overall equality gaps as shows in the staff survey
    • to hold staff conversations as part of the trust staff engagement programme to identify issues and actions related to various streams.

    Tip for other trusts

    • Good training is not enough – you need the organisational architecture to be in place, to support it. (See above on the performance indicator and the Essential Learning Group).
    • Adapt the training to different staff groups and their typical learning styles.

    Further information and contact details

    Tony Williams, Equality and Diversity Manager, 01392 406942 or email tony.williams@rdeft.nhs.uk

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