Social inclusion

Social inclusionWelcome to this social inclusion resource devised by the Royal College of Nursing.

This online resource is for all nurses and health care assistants in all settings to support practice with excluded people and ‘hard-to-reach’ communities. Health issues are key as it is well known that people who are socially excluded have poor physical and mental health compared to the general population.

The impact of social exclusion on health and the challenges facing health and social care practitioners are starkly highlighted in a Department of Health guidance document based on an analysis made jointly with the former Social Exclusion Task Force in the Cabinet Office.

“People from socially excluded groups experience poor health outcomes across a range of indicators including self-reported health, life expectancy and morbidity.

  • Just 30 per cent of Irish Travellers live beyond their 60th birthday.
  • 85 per cent of street sex workers reported using heroin and 87 per cent using crack cocaine.
  • People with learning disabilities are 58 times more likely to die prematurely than the
    general population.
  • Hepatitis B and C infection among female prisoners are 40 and 28 times higher than in the general population."

(Social Exclusion Task Force 2010, p.4).

In addition there are people who face multiple needs and exclusions, for example they may have been in prison at some point and may have mental ill health, may be addicted to drugs or alcohol and be experiencing homelessness. The issues around this are discussed in a publication, described as a vision paper, from  Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) and Revolving Doors which argues that  “most public services are designed to deal with one problem at a time and to support people with single, severe conditions”  (MEAM and Revolving Doors 2011, p.4). The vision is for better coordinated services and central government support for this.

This resource covers the social inclusion agenda in each of the four UK countries and highlights issues faced by a number of vulnerable groups. It signposts sources of support in the form of agencies, guidance and policies – see how to use this site.

It also looks in detail at what inclusive practice means in nursing – see inclusive practice.

We have used published definitions of social inclusion and health inequalities.

Acknowledgement: Photo by Charlotte Morse - The Power of Positive Images (www.flickr.com/photos/charlottemorse/collections/)


These references were last accessed on 4 April 2014. 

Social Exclusion Task Force (2010) Inclusion health (PDF 1.19MB), London: Cabinet Office.

MEAM and Revolving Doors (2011) Turning the tide: a vision paper for multiple needs and exclusions. London: MEAM.

If you have any comments or enquiries regarding this resource please contact us at: qualityandsafety@rcn.org.uk.