What are the challenges for OLGA?

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Due the history of discrimination against LGB &T people there is still fear about disclosing to (telling) a non gay audience.  Therefore if we seek health and social care help, we need to feel confident to disclose our sexuality, or gender reassignment, in order to receive as personalised a service as possible.  But, we can’t just be asked straight out ‘what is your sexuality?’.

So what can service providers (you)  ask us?

OLGA recommend all inclusive language on Care/Health Needs Assessment Questionnaires.  The language we advise, also will be better for all people in your care.

For example, question about MARITAL/PARTNER STATUS – should include more than just HUSBAND AND WIFE responses. ‘PARTNER’ is all inclusive, and CIVIL PARTNER’ is the legal equivalent of husband and wife.

Questions about our CARERS OR SUPPORT – also need to be all inclusive.  SON AND DAUGHTER is too limiting, ‘RELATIVE’ is a good all inclusive word.

NEXT OF KIN – should not be used on Health and Care Assessments. Clearly in this country it has been misunderstood, it only has a legal context as regards inheritance matters.  ’CONTACT PERSON’, is the all-inclusive term.

The British Medical Association in 2011 directed health staff to ask ‘who do you want as your contact person?’ and ‘who do you want to be involved in decisions about your health care?’ Is this what you ask?

Recent stories or anecdotes from LGTB persons in hospitals tell us – that the status of NEXT OF KIN is not understood or valued.  One gay person was ill in hospital and wanted his civil partner to visit him – the medical staff insisted that the civil partnership certificate was brought in.  Would this have happened to a ‘married’ partner?

Blood family can interfere in decisions about care and funeral arrangements, even to the point of not involving the surviving gay partner.   So it is vital that we are given the confidence to disclose that we can name our contact person, and we can state who and who we don to want to visit us.

Another story;  is from a lesbian, ill in a hospital bed – she wants her partner (not civil partner) to be allowed to visit her in intensive care.  She hears the medical staff around her bedside – arguing and debating for over an hour, as to whether or not they have to allow this – would they be arguing about a heterosexual couple?

Naming our contact person –would simply sort this out – for everybody, regardless of their sexuality.