Protecting Barnsley’s LGBTQ community in receipt of care

Following World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, Barnsley Adult Safeguarding Board (BSAB) wants to highlight the work being carried out to assist the borough’s older LGBTQ community in finding appropriate care support.

Stonewall research into the health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people demonstrates clear health inequalities:

  • Eight per cent of older gay people rate their mental health as ‘poor’ and are more likely to be worried about their mental health than heterosexual older people
  • Single older gay people are more than three times as likely to rate their mental health as ‘poor’ than those in a relationship.

Many older gay people have experienced, or fear, discrimination because of their sexual orientation, which can create a barrier to receiving appropriate care and treatment.

Barnsley Adult Safeguarding Board recognises that older members of the LGBTQ community often face particular challenges, because they are

  • More likely to be single and therefore more likely to require housing or care support to live safely, which might require involvement of a care provider or appointment of a  personal assistant.
  • Less likely to have family support and therefore more likely to require care and support services.
  • Likely to have experienced discrimination and hostility and therefore are less likely to access the services they need.

The decision to move into a care home is not easy to make and can be very stressful. Older LGBTQ people worry about having to go into a care home – they worry how others may react, how they might be treated by staff and fear they may have to hide their sexual orientation.

The Care Quality Commission inspects the experience of LGBT people in adult social care.

It is also developing guidance for care quality inspectors on the healthcare pathway for people who are transitioning their gender, and embed LGBT equality issues into the methodology used by inspectors.

BSAB recently conducted an audit of Barnsley’s care homes to evaluate how inclusive their services were to LGBTQ older adults.

Questions included whether homes have and use a policy to ensure LGBT+ resident’s needs are considered and met; if they support same sex relationships and sleeping arrangements either as a couple moving in together or for overnight stays; and if the home would  be interested in any staff training in LGBT+ awareness should it become available.

They received positive assurance of existing good practice or a willingness to develop services, through training and policies.

Cllr Jenny Platts, Cabinet Spokesperson for Adults and Communities said: “The best care homes make sure that they treat lesbian, gay and bisexual people the same as heterosexual residents, but also understand the barriers gay people can face when accessing services. They audit all their services to find out where improvements can be made, for example by making sure same-sex partners are treated equally to opposite sex partners.”

Barnsley Adult Safeguarding Board is advising local care homes of the need to work with both staff and other residents to foster a culture of dignity and respect for people of all backgrounds.

Anyone who knows, or suspects that an adult is being abused, harmed, or neglected, whether it's in their own home, in a care home or hospital, or out in the community, is urged to report it so that something can be done about it. 

If the person is in immediate danger call the police on 999 or (01142) 202020.

If they are not at risk of immediate harm, please still report any concerns to Adult Social Services on (01226) 773300.

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