Health services must be inclusive and welcoming to everyone

by Ian Gittens
Senior Project Manager, Diversity

Ian Gittens, Senior Project Manager (Diversity)

Being able to keep your individuality and sense of identity throughout a terminal illness is an important part of good quality care and support. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, that can be a particular challenge.

Research carried out by Nottingham University, and funded by Marie Curie, shows that older LGBT people who are terminally ill and their loved ones can be made to feel unwelcome and uncomfortable when accessing end of life care and support services.

Initial findings of the research, due to published later this year, show that, for example, some LGBT people do not feel safe to disclose or enact aspects of their intimate relationships in a health and care setting, at a time when they feel particularly vulnerable and in need of those relationships. LGBT people may also face inappropriate behaviour or assumptions from other people using the same services and from the people delivering the service.

LGBT partner network

We shared some of this research recently at an event held by one of our corporate partners, EDF Energy, for its LGBT Supporters Network. The event explored LGBT wellbeing at work, at home and in the community, and brought together people from organisations as diverse as Accenture, the BBC, BP, Eversheds, Lloyds Bank, National Grid, Rolls-Royce and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

The network was keen to hear about various aspects of LGBT health, including access to care and equal treatment for terminally ill LGBT people and their carers, families and loved ones.

Along with Marie Curie and EDF Energy, other presentations were delivered by Metro, an equality and diversity charity providing health, community and youth services, and PACE, a London charity promoting mental health and emotional wellbeing for the LGBT community.

Their presentations emphasised the importance of supporting all of our people to address the barriers to LGBT and other people benefiting from Marie Curie services. A diverse and inclusive workplace that allows people to be themselves is important for our workforce, service users and the communities we serve.

Committed to inclusive services

We’re committed as an organisation to inclusivity, not just in our role as an employer, but as a provider of vital services. Once our final research report is completed, we’ll look at whether there are changes we should be making to how we develop and deliver our services to make sure they are appropriate for everyone who needs them.

We must make sure our care and support services do not, even unintentionally, exclude or feel unwelcoming to people of any race, gender, sexual orientation or other personal characteristic. Working with and learning from other organisations, such as EDF Energy and others who support diversity in their workforce and communities, is an important part of this.