Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are being let down by end of life care services, charities have warned.
The Open to all? report by the National Council for Palliative Care and the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Voluntary and Community Organisations draws on a survey of more than 700 hospices, care homes and hospitals, as well as clinicians and service users.
Those surveyed expressed concern that a significant proportion of the population are not accessing appropriate care when they are dying because of their sexuality or gender identity.
The survey found that many LGBT people do not feel that end of life care services are open to them and are worried that they will face discrimination and a lack of understanding from health and social care providers when they are dying.
The report makes a series of recommendations. These include:
- creating better links between care providers and the LBGT community
- reviewing staff training
- ensuring language is appropriate
- using positive images of LGBT people in promotional material
- ensuring a good complaints procedure is in place to deal with homophobic and transphobic behaviour from staff and other service users
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “Fear of homophobic prejudice, rejection and neglect is very real. Many terminally ill lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel doubly vulnerable – on account of their illnesses and on account of homophobia. We still have a long way to go to ensure treatment and support without prejudice.”
Sam Turner, director of public engagement for the National Council for Palliative Care, said that good end of life care needed to be about doing everything possible to make people feel safe to talk without worrying they may be discriminated against.
The findings come as a report by Marie Curie Cancer Care highlighted the lack of support given to carers looking after loved ones at the end of their lives. Committed to Carers highlighted a lack of coordinated support for carers.
Imelda Redmond, director of policy and public affairs at the charity, said: “Marie Curie’s experience as a provider of end of life care shows that the needs of carers are best met when they are actually identified as carers and given proper support. This ensures that carers can have the best possible experience of caring and working through their bereavement. We need to get this right as a society.”