Whilst many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) people report many good experiences of care, there are some areas that still need attention. The biggest one that could be improved is health professionals including our partners in discussions about treatments and care plans.
There are too many stories of how health professionals don’t include the partners in discussions or refer to us as “your friend here today”. This is what my partner’s doctor kept doing to us. Even though he met me and my partner on the first day and every time we met, he kept referring to me for the two years we saw him as “your friend.” This made me feel excluded and my input into his care was not valued. Sometimes I felt that I was invisible even though I was caring for him every single day when he was not in hospital.
LGBT people wish to have their partners and carers involved in their care rather than them being ignored or disregarded. We want our partners and carers involvement to be welcomed and valued by cancer professionals. They appreciate it when their relationships are acknowledged, accepted and respected.
There are some really simple changes that health professionals can make to help to facilitate disclosure by using gender neutral terms (e.g. partner) and not using language that makes assumptions about the person with cancer (e.g. Mrs). They can enquire as to who has come along with the person with cancer. LGBT people appreciate it when assumptions are not made about them, their sexual orientation, relationships, living arrangements or support network, and when professionals ask about these important areas of their life.
Sean Donnelly, Knowsley LCCB member