Hospices have a philosophy of treating people as individuals and welcoming all within their services. However, we are part of a wider health and social care environment and even a society where there is, or certainly has been, bias and discrimination.
The belief held by many LGBT people that they are not welcomed or will be treated poorly in healthcare persists. This can lead to poor attendance for screening, late diagnosis, and poor outcomes. When considering end of life care, reports by the University of Nottingham, Cicely Saunders Institute, Marie Curie and others confirm that there is plenty to improve.
To provide excellent care we rely on our staff, and to deliver excellent care our staff need to be able to come to work being the very best they can be. This will include good terms and conditions, safe and resourced working environments, policies and procedures to guide and support, and inspirational inclusive leadership. It should also include a feeling of security to present ourselves as we want others to know us, including not having to hide our sexual identity if we do not want to, and being supported by the organisation in this.
I am not advocating that those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender get special treatment. But we need to ensure that our terms, conditions, policies and procedures consider all protected characteristics including sexual and gender identity, recognising that LGBT staff may need additional consideration; for example the use of language or imagery, support for transitioning at work, or specific inclusion in bullying and harassment policies. All of these things make the workplace feel safer, and signal inclusive intentions by the organisation for all staff and volunteers.
I have seen from my time as Chief Executive at Royal Trinity Hospice that not all LGBT staff and volunteers are going to want to be ‘out’, and the numbers of openly LGBT staff and volunteers we have in our individual hospices will be low, so it can become a challenge to give the time and attention required to offer additional support and training on this issue. We hope that that is where the London Hospice LGBT Network will come in.
The Network does not launch officially until October 2017 but we already have a core group representing 12 London hospices (adult and children’s) working on Terms of Reference, purpose, and arranging the launch event. A sub group of 10 hospices are also organising to march at London Pride 2017, under the banner of Hospices Across London.
The aims of the Network are:
- To promote equality, diversity and inclusion of LGBT people across London hospices.
- Provide leadership, support and education for all staff and volunteers across London hospices on relevant LGBT issues.
- Raise awareness of hospice care in LGBT communities
The Network will develop a strategy to:
- Facilitate staff and volunteer education and training
- Map current services and innovations for LGBT service users
- Develop resources / information for LGBT service users and LGBT staff and volunteers
- Facilitate sharing of policies, processes and good practice
- Raise awareness and increase LGBT visibility / accessibility in local communities
- Develop a support system across London e.g. LGBT bullying and harassment advisors
- Facilitate educational, social and support events
- Organise marching at London Pride
- Develop relationships with other LGBT networks as appropriate
There is much we can do, and we believe that providing this additional support and resource will benefit our staff and volunteers, allowing them to turn up to work being the best they can be, and providing that excellent hospice care we all cherish.
We hope that all staff and volunteers will want to become involved with the training and events, and that all London hospices will benefit from the work and support of the Network.
We would love a representative on the network committee from every London hospice if possible. If you would like more information please contact Dallas Pounds and please watch out for more information on events and training.
Royal Trinity, St Christopher’s, St Francis Romford, Princess Alice, Haven House, Greenwich and Bexley, Richard House, and Marie Curie Hampstead hospices are taking part in the Pride parade on Saturday 8 July in central London.