End of life and palliative care services can be daunting for anyone. However, LGBT people are more likely to have unique needs and experience significant barriers that their heterosexual and cis counterparts do not.
You may be worried about:
- Discrimination because of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This hostility could come from staff or other individuals (e.g. residents in a care home). This could cause you to question whether or not you need to go back into the closet or hide your identity
- Whether or not care staff have received any training on supporting LGBT people and how this can affect the quality of care you receive
- Losing your independence and connection to LGBT spaces and friends within the community
- Whether your partner will be overlooked or excluded in healthcare decisions
- If your sexual orientation and gender identity will be accepted and embraced. This is of particular concern for LGBT people accessing hospices affiliated with churches or religious organisations
- Whether you will be remembered as an LGBT person or if your identity will be hidden or erased by your family after death
- Trans people may have concerns that they will be buried with the wrong name and gender
“I’ve spent most of my life having to hide who I am, who my partner is and how I live my life…I only recently retired from work and I’m finally beginning to feel comfortable, happy and more open about my sexuality…The thought of one day having to go into a care home, go back into a heterosexual environment and go back in the closet – it terrifies me!
It’s hard to anticipate the future when you know it means reliving all of the discrimination and stigma that you’ve faced for decades beforehand”
If you are concerned about end of life care, there are some simple things you can do, including:
- Make a will – if possible before accessing care services
- Ensure your partner or a trusted person has power of attorney to enact your wishes
- Make your nominated next of kin known on medical forms and legal documents
- Ask services how they fulfil their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to pay due regard to people with protected characteristics (this includes sexual orientation and gender reassignment)