Publish Date: 25/06/2013
Rosie Adamson-Clark recently retired as an NHS psychological Therapist/Clinician. She became disabled following a near fatal hit and run incident while she was studying for her PhD on M/Otherhood lesbian identities and mothering (for adoption and social services organisations).
Previously Rosie had done a Masters degree on Section 28 and has also worked for the Disability Equality Commission teaching social services students about disability equality and inclusion. Now at 57, Rosie finds that she still wants to be involved in helping to ensure that healthcare services are aware of the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, she is involved in the LGF’s LGB Community Leaders programme to help support our communities to have their voices heard and their needs met. Rosie lives in the Bolton area with her long term partner Chrissy.
How do you find health services currently cater for the needs of LGB people?
From my years working in mental health, I feel there is wariness from LGB people to say who they are as some services can be a bit focussed on the needs of the heterosexual populace. This is hopefully not the case but there is always work to be done on equality and equal access to services, and the particular needs of particular groups of people...LGBT, disabled etc.
What are the main issues that you want to raise awareness of with healthcare providers?
I want to open up the approach to healthcare for lesbian/gay/women loving women etc, and help providers understand the needs of us non-heterosexual women. There is a lack of uptake with cervical smears for instance and this should be looked at...the 'why' and ' how’ can we encourage women to come forward and have this crucially important test. Isolation and alcohol issues can go unrecognised as well, as gay women do tend to hide their distress more and 'get on with things'. We need to be open and supportive of all needs and all people.
What would you like to achieve via the LGB Community Leaders project?
To help dispel prejudice and exclusion from discussion about health needs and provision, to get rid of the stereotypes which still abound.
What would you say to someone frustrated at how their healthcare needs are met?
I would say take that first step is to say to someone ' this is what I am unhappy about, or this is what I need'. It can be scary and difficult. Your first approach if you feel you can’t speak to your GP, might be the practice Nurse or writing (anonymously if need be) to your local Healthwatch board to state your concerns and areas of need which are not being met. Communicate your concerns in any way you can...seek out a Community Leader like myself or PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) person and discuss your concerns. If we don’t speak out, how will providers know they are not addressing our specific needs?
What has made you want to try and improve things for LGB people?
I have had more than a few bad experiences of prejudice against me for being a woman with a female partner over the last 19 years, some quite recently. It still shocks me when people treat me in a different or unhelpful way just because of who I love and choose to spend my life with. I want everyone to feel comfortable and able to speak freely to their doctors or health providers about who they are and what their needs are without fear or recrimination or ill treatment.
How do you think you can aim to help shape services where you live?
I intend to link into the local health watch board and meet GP practice managers to ask if I can help. I worked in the NHS for 11 years so have some insights and feel I can help. It may take me the full 3 years of the project but I shall do what I can to help our community.
If, like Rosie you want to be an advocate for lesbian and bi women and you live in Greater Manchester why not be an LGB Community Leader yourself? To find out more e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 3 30 30 30.