Report finds many LGBT people are delaying accessing care or feel the need to hide their sexuality
Three quarters of LGBT people are not confident that health and social care services provide adequate end of life care for their needs.
A report from terminal illness charity Marie Curie, looking at the barriers that prevent LGBT people from accessing end of life care, found 74% felt services were not sensitive to their sexuality.
One in four LGBT people also told the charity they had experienced discrimination from health and social care professionals, making them anxious about hiding who they are when accessing end of life care.
Hiding who I am: The reality of end of life care for LGBT peoplesuggests one of the main problems is that the majority (57%) of health and social care professionals and do not consider sexual orientation as being relevant to a person’s health needs.
LGBT people should be able to feel safe and have the best possible experience of palliative and end of life careSusan Lowes
This, the charity says, often results in LGBT people delaying accessing the care they need and are more likely to experience unmanaged symptoms and pain, which has a negative impact on carers’ wellbeing.
Other challenges highlighted in the report include people feeling under pressure to constantly come out to different care professionals, who make assumptions about their sexuality. This is particularly difficult for older people, who grew up during a time when it was illegal to be gay.
Susan Lowes, policy and public affairs manager at Marie Curie in Scotland, said: “Everybody has a right to high quality care, regardless of what their personal circumstances are.
“LGBT people should be able to feel safe and have the best possible experience of palliative and end of life care.
“We at Marie Curie are committed to ensuring this happens throughout our services. We’d like to see others - including charities, Scottish Government, NHS boards, local authorities and new health and social care partnerships - committed to doing the same.”
Catherine Somerville campaigns, policy and research manager at Stonewall Scotland welcomed Marie Curie addressing the issue in its research.
She said Stonewall’s own research had found 41% of LGBT people in Scotland would expect to face discrimination in a residential home for older people.
She added: “It is vital that healthcare staff are aware of the experiences of LGBT patients and their loved ones to ensure that staff are able to support them at their most vulnerable, particularly in end of life care.
“It is a great step to see Marie Curie address this in their research and we hope that the findings go on to effect practical and positive change for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.”