Pride Month has been celebrated every June since 1970. The first pride march was held in New York City on June 28th, 1970. The march was organised by Brenda Howard, known as “The Mother of Pride”. Brenda organised the march for the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
Whilst there has been improvement in meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals in many aspects, there is still a lack of appropriate LGBTQ+ support in social care services. Many older LGBTQ+ people have experienced lifetimes of persecution and prejudice.
It’s important to remember that there will be LGBTQ+ people using your care service either now or in the future. Because you cannot immediately see if someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans, many older LGBTQ+ people remain ‘invisible’ as far as statistics are concerned. But this doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Why is this an important issue?
A positive approach to LGBTQ+ service users also offers reassurance to LGBTQ+ colleagues who may be anxious about being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace. Being a progressive and sensitive service provider is also a step towards being a good employer. People need to feel safe and secure. Psychological safety is equally important for a person who has experienced prejudice in the past. This could especially be true for a LGBTQ+ person living with dementia or someone who is dependent on others for aspects of their care.
How to make your care setting more inclusive
It is important that a resident or service user feels the culture of the home makes them feel confident that their sexual orientation or gender identity will be respected. A person should be able to express their relationships without threat and be given the same respect as others.
Embrace and support the diversity among older people to build an inclusive culture for all, including LGBTQ+. Make sure you respect the views and wishes of individuals with different sexual identities, gender identities and life histories. Creating a safe and open learning culture for all staff and participate in diversity and inclusion training. Time the time to discuss with your colleagues on what inclusion of LGBTQ+ people means, this could happen from induction of new staff.
Raising awareness of historical and current discrimination, marginalization and exclusion experienced by LGBTQ+ people. Be aware that many older LGBTQ+ people will have potentially experienced discrimination or prejudice during their lifetime, including employees. These experiences can make people anxious about how they will be treated in residential care settings.
Make sure to priorities person-centred care. Diversity and the unique experience of all individuals must be valued, including sexual identity, gender identity and relationship histories. Be aware of and sensitive to the unique needs of each resident as an individual.
And finally, a great way to create an inclusive home setting for LGBTQ+ residents is the engage with external LGBTQ+ communities and events. This could include local Pride Events or actives within the home or supporting residents to attend these.
Below are some great resources for yourself and care team to read through