Frequently Asked Questions
We have gathered the most commonly asked questions about the self assessment and published them on this page in order to help others. Hopefully we have answered any questions you may have here. However if that is not the case please get in touch. We are always happy to help.
The self assessment can be completed online or by downloading and completing a paper copy. In both formats, each section has a set of instructions to aid completion and an explanation of the importance and relevance of the questions to health inequalities. There is also an opportunity at the end of each section to summarise the action you will take to address the issues you have raised in the self assessment process. Some sections also have links to sources of additional information, resources or training which may help you to undertake further learning or make links with other organisations or service providers.
The online self assessment will ask you first to log in by providing your name and email address. This will enable you to have the reports you generate emailed to your inbox. As you complete each section your responses will be automatically saved and a percentage completed indicator will enable you to track your progress. This will allow you to complete the assessment in steps as and when you are able to do so. You can also quickly navigate to each section of the assessment to edit your responses or return to sections later. On completing each section you will be able to download or email results directly to your inbox. Similarly, on completion of the assessment you will be able to download or email an overall report.
At the end of the self assessment you will be asked to complete an online evaluation. This is composed of a few simple questions which will enable us to find out more about: who is using the self assessment; how they are using it; where it needs to be improved; and what further support and resources might be required.
The self assessment can be used by teams, partnerships and organisations.
It can be used to build capacity of teams, as well as an improvement tool which can be used to catalogue change in practice over time. Partnerships and organisations may also be interested in using the tool to inform the development of an inequality capacity-building and improvement plan.
Sections 1 and 2 relate to operational level matters and will help you to assess current front-line practice, where capacity building might be required and what support might be useful. Completion of this part of the self assessment will rely on the knowledge of front line practitioners; however, it should be completed with team leaders and managers in order to promote shared understanding and insight into practice across the team.
Sections 3 to 6 encourage you to think about strategic practices such as service planning, partnership working, recruitment, procurement and advocacy. This is likely to require the knowledge of team leaders and managers; however, it is recommended that this section is also completed with teams in order to be transparent and inclusive and to promote shared learning.
Whilst it is recognised that there is good work going on to address inequalities there is a need to take stock; highlight good practice where it exists and build capacity to maximise our efforts.
- The health inequalities self assessment has been developed to enable services to assess:
- staff knowledge about how social and economic problems affect the people they work with;
- staff confidence and skills in discussing these issues with people; and
- the tools available to staff for sign-posting to social and economic support services.
In addition, the self assessment will enable managers (and their teams) to identify opportunities to address inequalities as part of service planning, as partners in Health and Social Care and Community Planning Partnerships; and through procurement and recruitment practices.
Health inequalities in terms of premature illness and death can be observed across the social gradient and are, therefore, an issue for all of us. Socioeconomic deprivation is the key determinant of health inequalities; however age, gender and ethnicity are also important factors. Although there has been some progress in bringing about an improvement in individual risk factors such as smoking and in certain preventable causes of death such as some cancers, research has now demonstrated that the socially patterned risks of today will be replaced by new, avoidable, causes of mortality in the future if action is not taken to tackle the fundamental root causes of health inequalities. Preventative actions that improve the conditions in which people live can lengthen people’s lives and years spent in good health, improve services and save money.
Health inequalities are the end result of wider inequalities in society. An unequal distribution of power, money and resources at a global level has a direct influence on factors such as the availability of good work, and access to quality, affordable housing, social and cultural experiences, transport, education and learning opportunities, and services. These wider environments in which people live shapes their individual experiences which is more likely to result in people living in poor housing, encountering poor access to health care, living on a low income and being unemployed or undertaking low paid work. They also make it more difficult for people to avoid health risks and pursue positive health behaviours. This ultimately results in unequal outcomes in health, illness and death across the population.
Tackling health inequalities requires action to:
- undo the fundamental causes through fiscal, cultural and legislative change;
- prevent social inequalities impacting on health through action to improve services and conditions such as housing, education, natural environments and transport; and
- mitigate the impact of social inequalities on individuals by being sensitive to the social circumstances in which people live that may be impacting on their health and creating barriers to accessing services.
Although many services cannot exert direct control over the wider socioeconomic determinants of health, there are a number of things that can be done to ensure that inequality is a key consideration in the planning and delivery of services:
- Frontline staff can ensure that due attention is given to the social and economic problems that people experience which may be affecting their health or stopping them engaging in and benefiting from the services we are providing and we can ensure this informs our decisions in terms of the services or treatment we provide and how we provide it. They can also direct people to other services and organisations for appropriate help and support.
- Service planners can systematically consider inequality from the start by determining the socioeconomic factors which might impact on the different people who use our services and the barriers they might face. By considering this in the early stages of planning we can adjust our proposals to ensure we are doing everything we can to reduce inequalities.
- We all can ensure, where possible, that we are not increasing inequalities by ensuring that our services are accessible by everyone in society and by exercising non-discriminatory practice. This will involve delivering our services in proportion to need.
- We all may have opportunities to work in partnership with other service providers to tackle the social and economic factors affecting our communities and the people who use our services;
- We all have a role in advocating on behalf of the people who use our services, their families and the wider community for improvements to the wider social, economic and environmental conditions in which people live.
- Our organisations also have a role as employers and purchasers of services and goods to consider how we can ensure that we are doing everything we can to address inequalities through our recruitment and procurement practices.
If you have any questions about this self assessment you can check out our frequently asked questions which aims to address the most commonly asked questions. We are on hand to help with any questions should you require further assistance.
You can start the health and inequalities self assessment at any time. During each of the questions you will be able to save your progress or skip between sections. Additionally you can take the self assessment as an individual or as part of a group.