Bluebird Care and Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum - Working Together to Promote LGBTQ Awareness in Homecare

Published: 15/05/2018

Bluebird Care Wandsworth and Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum came together to talk about the importance of LGBTQ awareness in social care and the role we can play in improving the experience of LGBTQ people in the homecare environment. 

On 23 April, at Karina Corden's invitation, Suzanna Hopwood & John Morrill from Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum met members of the Bluebird management team based in Wandsworth to discuss LGBTQ awareness training and its relevance to the work of Bluebird Care. The Forum is one of a number of borough forums in London which act as local advocates on a range of issues of interest to the LGBTQ+ community. For example, it is currently working with the CCG and the Council on mental health, cancer screening and sexual health and recently celebrated the first anniversary of its sponsorship of the LGBT 50 Plus Coffee Morning at the Furzedown Project, the first of its kind in Wandsworth.
All of us want to feel secure and respected in our own homes and certainly not to be judged about our life styles. This is especially the case for LGBT people, particularly when they are older and need the services and support of professional carers coming into their homes. Many older LGBT people grew up at a time when attitudes were very different and they had to hide their identities for fear of ridicule, abuse and worse. It is therefore very important that professional care workers are both confident and aware of these sensitivities when assisting their LGBT clients.  
Using examples to open up discussion, Suzanna and John described some real-life situations which they have encountered.
John spoke about a gay man in his 80s whose partner of 50 years had recently passed away and he had got to the stage of requiring home care. Whenever the carer was coming to his home, he hid any memorabilia of his partner, thus wiping out his 50-year relationship.  
This led to a very open discussion in which one supervisor described how one of her clients, a single man living alone, was revealed to be a cross dresser when she came across some items of women's clothing during a visit. Her client was very embarrassed, but she reassured him by saying that what he did in his home was his affair and a totally private matter. This proved to be very important for their relationship, and especially for the client who felt relieved of the burden of secrecy and fear of discovery. 
At the end of the meeting when Karina suggested that perhaps the way forward was to organise a short "Older LGBTQ Awareness" session, initially for supervisors, the suggestion was greeted warmly. As a result, Suzanna and John are now preparing a proposal for such a session for Karina and colleagues to consider, with a view to it taking place later this year.