Celebrating Pride Month 2024

News and Blog

Pride Month, celebrated each June, honours the LGBTQ+ community’s history, achievements, and ongoing struggles for equality. For hospices, this month presents a unique opportunity to reflect on and enhance their commitment to providing compassionate, inclusive care to all patients, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year’s Pride Month theme is “Reflect. Empower. Unite.”, highlighting the importance of looking back on the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community, empowering individuals to continue advocating for their rights, and uniting to foster inclusivity and acceptance. 

Despite advances in LGBTQ+ rights, discrimination remains a significant issue within hospice care, impacting the quality of end-of-life services provided to LGBTQ+ individuals. Understanding the scope of this discrimination and addressing it is crucial for creating an inclusive and supportive hospice environment.

Statistics on Discrimination in Hospice Care in the UK

  • A survey by Stonewall in 2018 found that 1 in 7 LGBTQ+ people avoided seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination. (https://www.nycpride.org/)
  • 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ individuals reported being discriminated against by healthcare staff. (https://www.nycpride.org/)
  • 1 in 4 transgender people and 1 in 6 lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals had experienced negative attitudes from healthcare professionals when seeking medical help. (https://www.nycpride.org/)
  • Research conducted by the University of Nottingham and published in the *BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care* journal highlighted that only 13% of LGBTQ+ patients felt their specific needs were adequately addressed in hospice care (https://www.nycpride.org/)
  • The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) and Consortium LGBT conducted a survey that showed 34% of LGBTQ+ respondents felt that their partners were not recognised or involved in their care plans, reflecting a significant gap in inclusive practice. (https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/pride-month)

The Importance of Inclusivity in Hospice Care

Hospices play a crucial role in providing end-of-life care, prioritising comfort, dignity, and quality of life. For LGBTQ+ individuals, who may have faced a lifetime of discrimination and stigma, accessing compassionate and affirming end-of-life care is essential. Recognising and addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients ensures that they feel respected, understood, and valued during their final days.

There are many ways that hospices can look to create a welcoming environment, such as providing ongoing training and education of LGBTQ+ issues for hospice staff, covering the use of inclusive language, understanding the diverse experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals, and recognising specific health concerns that may be prevalent in this community.

LGBTQ+ policies and procedures that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ patients’ rights can be implemented to ensure a safe and respectful environment. This includes respecting chosen names and pronouns, recognising same-sex partners as family, and safeguarding against discrimination.

Building partnerships with local LGBTQ+ organisations can also enhance hospice services; these organisations can provide valuable resources, support networks, and cultural competence training for staff. Involving LGBTQ+ volunteers and advocates in hospice programmes can also foster a deeper understanding and connection with the community.

By addressing these issues and implementing inclusive practices, hospices can ensure that those we care for receive the compassionate, respectful and dignified care that they deserve, particularly during the critical end-of-life stage that can be the most difficult time for both the individual, as well as their loved ones.