For anyone faced with the prospect of going into a full time care home, the uncertainty ahead can be very intimidating. For people who have different sexual orientations or gender identities, this can be another major source of anxiety.
Depending on the condition the patient is suffering from or the reason they are going into care, there are things you can do as a supportive family member or friend to make this process easier. We also offer some advice for patients themselves here.
Firstly, you need to be familiar with the relevant laws relating to LGBT rights. In England and Wales, discrimination of any kind when a service is being offered is prohibited on the grounds of sexual orientation by the Equality Act 2010. This means that it would be illegal for any staff at a care home (which provides a service) to discriminate against LGBT patients. It’s highly unlikely that you would ever be in a situation where you would have to refer to this law, but it is useful to keep it in mind.
When choosing a care home, of course there are a great number of factors to consider. For LGBT people, specific concerns may include signs of the community spirit in the home. It would normally be considered a good sign if relationships between patients and staff seem to be positive. If possible, it always helps to speak to other people who have been in a similar position before, because making these kinds of judgements can be difficult in a short period of time.
You can always ask care homes to provide a copy of their equal opportunities policy, any certifications they may have received on the subject of equality, and similar official documents. It is also worth asking theoretical questions about how the home would deal with any incident involving homophobia, whether from staff or other patients.
For partners, close family members and friends of LGBT patients, it is important to talk with the person going into care and decide how open you plan to be in discussing their relationships or identity. In most cases, honesty will make the process easier, but not everybody is ready for that and the patient’s wishes need to be respected above all.