News

June 1, 2024

How Equality in Healthcare Improves Care for LGBTQ+ Hospice Patients


Regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or who you love, everyone deserves to feel safe receiving the care they need. For LGBTQ+ folks, hospice care can look different than it often does for cisgender, heterosexual people. As a healthcare care provider, we take the time to understand patients’ personal needs and guide them through their journey with patient-centered, inclusive practices.

What Does Equality in Hospice Care Look Like?

A 2018 AARP study showed that 60% of LGBTQ+ people worry about a lack of sensitivity in their healthcare. Having multiple barriers to high-quality healthcare, such as poverty, racism, disability, and location, can also make it more challenging to find a provider who can meet their needs. To practice equality in healthcare, everyone should receive care tailored to their needs and get information that will help them most according to those needs. Making hospice care more accessible to marginalized groups, like LGBTQ+ people, means we must understand their experiences beyond physical symptoms, too. Inclusive care in a hospice setting involves treating each patient individually while validating the varied parts of their identity and taking the time to learn about the unique experiences within the LGBTQ+ community. It can be as simple as using the person’s correct name and pronouns and treating them with the same respect you would for any straight, cisgender patient. Many LGBTQ+ patients have “found family” involved in their care instead of, or in addition to, blood relatives to support them. Additionally, if the patient wants spiritual guidance, a hospice care provider should be able to help find an LGTBQ+ friendly chaplain and other supportive resources that respect the person’s identity and wishes. Plus, showing sensitivity about the patient’s previous healthcare experiences can help them feel more comfortable receiving care from their current provider.

Why We Focus on Equality in Our Care

Healthcare focused on equality creates a broader understanding of diverse experiences that allow providers to offer specific care and help patients with thorough knowledge. It gives patients and their families more support and well-rounded information that applies specifically to them. Many LGBTQ+ patients have their symptoms and concerns dismissed or devalued in typical medical settings. As a result, many are reluctant to share their needs or experiences for fear of discrimination. When we as providers understand this reality, we can help the LGBTQ+ community feel safer receiving hospice care. It ensures that patients have to do less work to be understood and receive the necessary care, especially while healing or going through the hospice journey. By validating and including patients’ identities and being mindful of them in their care, providers give loved ones the space to be with the patient while they receive care. While communication between patients, providers, and others involved in care is important, having a provider who understands that the LGBTQ+ community has unique needs and struggles reduces the burden on patients.

How Do We Provide Inclusive Care?

We focus on healing, support, and balance between offering physical care and emotional healing. We want our patients to feel comfortable asking difficult questions, sharing their experiences, and knowing they have someone who will listen to and advocate for their needs. We know how overwhelming hospice can feel for many LGBTQ+ patients and their loved ones, and to us, inclusivity means providing care that reduces anxieties and makes end-of-life transitions as comfortable as possible. Our care is all about love and healing, whether that be physical pain or emotional support. By presenting all options and giving patients control, we offer excellent palliative care that extends to emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. Please contact us to learn more about how we provide equitable, compassionate hospice care. References
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6774548/
  2. https://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resource.cfm?r=854
  3. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01408
  4. https://www.sageusa.org/equality-in-life-death-palliative-and-hospice-care-for-lgbtq-elders/
  5. https://spcare.bmj.com/content/12/2/142
  6. https://cancer-network.org/cancer-information/cancer-and-the-lgbt-community/lgbt-palliative-care/
  7. https://hospicenews.com/2020/10/28/hospices-work-to-reach-underserved-lgbtq-communities/