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Five Ways To Champion LGBTQ, Diversity And Inclusion in Your Care Home

June is LGBT Pride Month – 30 days dedicated to celebrating the achievements and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and related communities. Normally referred to as ‘Pride Month’, the event commemorates the Stonewall riots/uprising that took place in New York City in June 1969 with a series of Pride marches and themed events across the world.

Society is moving closer and closer towards greater acceptance and inclusivity, yet there is still some way to go. Care home managers can take a number of steps to ensure that all their residents feel accepted, safe and able to access respectful healthcare, regardless of gender identify or sexual orientation. Many residents from the LGBT communities will have faced challenges around discrimination, misunderstandings and social isolation in their lives before moving into a care home. Therefore, it is essential that people feel listened to and valued at this more vulnerable stage in their health and wellbeing.

Here are five key areas to think about when seeking to foster a more inclusive, supportive environment for people from the LGBT communities now living in residential care.

Compassionate care

Person-centred care places the individual at the heart of all healthcare planning and activities. It provides an individualised approach that matches people’s needs, preferences and choices as closely as possible. This includes adding identification details to people care plan and personal records on Care Vision. These should include residents preferred pronouns, important partners, connections and friends, preferred way of self-identifying and any relevant social or medical history. Getting these personal details right is very important and can help strengthen trust between residents and caregivers. It can also spark interesting conversations about people’s experiences and life stories.

Knowledge is power

Staff can sometimes inadvertently cause upset through lack of knowledge or experience, rather than any intentional discrimination. Providing training in LGBT issues, diversity, equality and inclusion and preferred methods of treatment and communication can often clear up misunderstandings before they cause offence or distress. Use Care Vision’s staff management tools to stay on top of diversity, sensitivity and other important forms of LGBT training. Encourage staff and residents to talk openly about their own experiences and ask questions sensitively to further knowledge and understanding.

Social wellbeing

If LGBT residents have experienced discrimination, prejudice or even violence as a result of their gender identify or sexual orientation, it is quite possible that they will have also lived with an element of social isolation and withdrawal from certain sectors of society. Make sure they feel welcome and encouraged to join in social activities in your care home. Support them with anything they may need to feel confident enough to join in. Watch out for residents who do not receive many visits or interaction from the ‘outside world’. Feeling isolated and alone can have a majorly detrimental effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing. This can then lead on to physical problems, such as lack of sleep, loss of appetite and problems with maintaining a healthy weight.

Strength in numbers

One good idea is to set up an LGBT group or run events for residents – and staff if they wish – where people can meet up and draw strength from company. This can help reduce isolation and bring LGBT issues further into the mainstream running of the care home. Some ideas for activities could include inviting speakers, showing films and creating a safe space for open conversations around experiences, hopes and fears. You could also look online for support groups, forums and educational resources to help with this and introduce new ideas and voices to the group.

Promoting Pride

LGBT Pride Month takes place every year and offers opportunities to celebrate the diverse LGBT communities all over the world. If your residents are unable to attend a Pride event themselves, look out for televised events and news footage, as well as films, TV and radio programmes, interviews and magazine articles to share. Plan some Pride themed meals and snacks – then rainbow motif should make it easy to incorporate some colour and fun into meal planning over the coming weeks. Above all, use the opportunity to promote and celebrate inclusivity, tolerance and a shared sense of belonging among all residents, family members and staff.

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