During this period of extreme pressure within Health and Social Care, there is so much being talked about in terms of care and dealing with the immediate problem of Covid-19 and quite rightly so. However, are we considering the needs of everyone we care for as isolation, sickness and care of bereaved relatives are real challenges as social isolation and travel restrictions change regularly.
For a long time now, we have been discussing caring for clients and looking at Diversity, this is certainly something that CQC have been looking at over recent months. It has become apparent to the team at Swift Management that many care home operators and managers do not really understand the true meaning of diversity. When we visit homes and speak to staff about diversity they usual talk about the racial mix of both staff and residents, they talk about the different religions represented by residents in the home and who the various clergy might visit on a frequent or infrequent basis.
What people seem to sidestep are those residents from the LGBTQ community and when you ask, they simply say, we don’t have any LGBTQ residents in the home. As a team we have looked back over our years in social care and between us all, we can only count less than 10 residents who were openly LGBTQ. Given between the team we have over 100 years’ experience in health and social care, the numbers of LGBTQ residents must be higher.
To understand the reluctance of our older population to open up about their sexuality it is useful to understand the background in which they grew up. The UK was not the open and accepting place it is today. Homosexual was illegal until 1967; up until that point being “Gay” carried a prison sentence. Police would raid houses early in the morning to catch people sleeping together, often encouraged by local communities making complaints about their neighbours. Courts would in some cases issue prison sentences or offer an alternative of “Voluntary” Electric Shock Therapy to assist in changing their sexuality. This Treatment was only stopped in the late 1970’s when Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness. In less than 55 years the changes in society for the LGBTQ community has vastly changed. Therefore, for those who grow up prior to 1967 many will bear the scars of the society they grew up with.
You may argue that many groups in society over the years have suffered at the hands of others, whether that be due to race or religion etc. But this persecution in the UK was never legalised persecution in the same was as it was for the LGBTQ community. Many residents particularly those living with dementia will not be able to understand they have a right to be open. We as social care providers have a duty to encourage openness in both our staff and our residents, to ensure our LGBTQ residents can live their lives as they wish and without fear. This is particularly important when people are nearing the end of their lives, wanting to prepare it is just as important for the partners who are also in the same position and need to be able to grieve.
Be amongst the first care homes to truly recognise diversity. To find out more about being a truly diverse care home operator why not contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org we are able to assist with your diversity plan and involve others in training and educating your staff about this very important aspect of so many people’s lives.