Call for greater LGBTIQ+ inclusivity in palliative care


As National Palliative Care Week begins, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) and senior practitioner Dr Ruth McNair offer practical solutions for end-of-life challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ people.

“Discrimination drives many LGBTIQ+ people to avoid healthcare or avoid disclosing their diverse bodies, sexual orientations or genders. This directly impacts on their end-of-life planning,” said Dr Ruth McNair, General Practitioner, and honorary Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.

“Barriers to end-of-life care for LGBTIQ+ people can be overcome. Further education within the healthcare sector would greatly improve awareness of issues unique to LGBTIQ+ patients.”

These comments for greater inclusivity come ahead of National Palliative Care Week, happening from Sunday, 19 May to Saturday, 25 May.

“When healthcare providers encourage LGBTIQ+ people to establish an advanced care directive, it can have a ripple effect throughout LGBTIQ+ communities where other people also better prepare for end-of-life scenarios,” Dr McNair said.

Dr McNair has been deeply involved in the LGBTIQ+ health space for a long time, collaborating closely with LHA and actively participating in its LGBTIQ+ Palliative Care Project.

This year, LHA launched the LGBTIQ+ Inclusive Palliative Care eLearning to promote inclusivity in palliative care. This program offers professional development for the palliative care workforce focused on providing safe, inclusive palliative care that respects and supports LGBTIQ+ people, ensuring they can access care, free from discrimination.

The four-module eLearning program is accessible at no cost to those working in palliative care or with an interest in the field.

“Fears of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and elder abuse can be highly distressing to older people who have faced these challenges in the past. As such, there is an urgent need for the aged care and primary care sectors to address the unique challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ people when accessing palliative care services,” Dr McNair said.

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