Difference and Diversity

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I have chosen ageism pertaining to older people (people over 65 years of age) as the area of discrimination for my ‘Difference and Diversity’ assignment. Though I have chosen older people to mean people over 65 years research from Age UK (2011) ‘A Snapshot of Ageism in the UK and across Europe’ shows that the perception of when old age starts in the UK is 59 years of age. With the exception of Turkey (55 years of age), in Europe the age range is between 60-68 years of age. I will attempt to define ageism/age discrimination, discuss its prevalence in UK society, compare and contrast differing perspectives and explanations for ageism and discuss the relevance to, and implications for social work practice. I will also discuss how this impact on services with focus on dignity and care of older people in social care and health services. The area of discrimination will be explored with specific reference to Thompson’s PCS (i.e. personal, cultural and structural) model which demonstrates how discrimination occurs at the three separate but connected levels as well as ‘The Uncomfortable Edge’ (A tool for anti-discriminatory practice) by Courtney Jones and Amanda Thorpe of Bedfordshire University. The term ‘ageism’ was first presented by Doctor Robert Butler in 1968 to describe the range of prejudices faced by older people. Overtime, the term has evolved showing three clear individual but related elements which are according to Nelson (2002), cited in CPA (2009) “(1) prejudicial and discrimination attitudes towards older people, old age and the ageing process (2) discriminatory practices against older people; and (3) institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older adults, reduce their opportunity for life satisfaction and undermine their personal dignity.” Thompson confirms Butler’s definition of ageism reflects his PCS model

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