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Bid to improve end of life care for gay people


The National End of Life Care Programme has published guidance on care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the end of their lives.

It offers guidance and advice for those working with LGBT people, and for LGBT people themselves, whether giving or receiving end of life care.

The guide highlights the importance of avoiding the assumption that someone is heterosexual and avoiding the common misunderstanding that next of kin must be a person related by blood or marriage.

In addition, it advises healthcare staff of the challenges faced if a person has not previously “come out”, as well as recognising that LGBT people that have “come out” may have become isolated from their families of origin and therefore rely on other support networks.

There is also a danger of “not recognising the significance of a relationship” between a patient and another person, which may result in a bereaved person’s grief going unrecognised, it adds.

The guide is titled The route to success in end of life care – achieving quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

NEoLCP director Claire Henry said: “The issues and challenges faced by LGBT people at the end of life need a co-ordinated and collaborative response.

“This report sets out the actions that are needed at both individual and organisational levels to make real improvements happen.” 

The launch of the guidance coincided with a conference organised by the National Council for Palliative Care, NEoLCP and the University of Nottingham to discuss how to improve end of life care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Sam Turner, director of public engagement at the National Council for Palliative Care, said: “Good end of life care should be about doing all we can to make people feel safe and secure to talk about their lives and the people who are important to them without worrying they may be discriminated against.

“We only have one chance to get end of life care right for people who are dying, which is why it is so important that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are able to access high quality and appropriate care and support when they are dying.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell added: “Becoming seriously ill and knowing you are dying is distressing enough without the added stress of worrying that  your carers may not accept you if they know you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. 

“Fear of homophobic prejudice, rejection and neglect is very real and continues to damage LGBT people’s lives. Many terminally ill LGBT people feel doubly vulnerable - on account of their illnesses and on account of homophobia or transphobia.”


Readers' comments (7)

  • Surely end of life care is end of life care regardless of colour, creed, sexual orientation etc etc. Good professionals will deal with whatever comes up within that care. It seems more discriminative to single gay people out in this way. Do we than have end of life care for people with other specifiic disorders/diseases/conditions/ways of life? Health care deals with human beings who ALL have feelings so lets not make it more complicated than it already can be.

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  • In an ideal world everyone would be treated the same way but they are not. Not all health care workers are professional.

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  • so strange, it seems nowadays that absolutely everything needs spelling out to health care professionals and they need to be lead by the hand. what happened to professional codes of ethics and conduct which they should agree to adhere to before being accepted for registration and whatever happened to good basic common sense required to apply the codes to care and evaluate situations as they present themselves and make decisions on the best course of action and above all treat each and every one with respect regardless of who they are and where they come from and not base our judgements on personal aspects of their lives which are not our concern.

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  • Not all health-care workers are registered and not all treat people with kindness and compassion. Any decent minded health worker knows that they should not be in this job if they are prejudiced against anyone, there is no place for them and they should not be allowed to work in a health environment.

    Other patients (and their visitors) can also be thoughtless, rude, discriminatory and offensive, as can the families of those who are dying.

    Anyone with any common sense, pride in their job and maturity will offer a very high standard of care to everyone who is ill and dying. It must be horrible knowing you are dying and that you are still open to prejudice.

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  • this is extremely comforting for the lgbt community to show that recognition of the stress of not being a and i use the term loosely "normal" patient and have different needs. this shows a great deal how cultures are developing to understand that different people different lives different sensitivites and i for one am glad that there is guidance in this for healthcare staff.

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  • Matt G

    It had never occurred to me to treat anyone differently from anyone else...until now!
    Patient-centred care is exactly what it says on the tin. Simples!

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  • Matt

    agreed, but treating everybody as an individual at the same time and trying to ensure that their needs, wishes (those they express and wish to share) and demands are identified and met.

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