Palliative care includes treatment care and support which aims to increase a person’s quality of life and comfort as they experience life-limiting or advanced disease. This involves attention to the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of a person’s wellbeing. Within Australia, most palliative care is delivered by state and territory governments. Palliative care settings range from inpatient services through to community-based services, and care in the home.
People from LGBTI communities accessing palliative Care can experience a range of barriers.
Some of these include:
- Health services are not aware of the needs of LGBTI people accessing palliative care services.
- Many palliative care services and general healthcare workers have not engaged in LGBTI inclusion awareness training or similar.
- LGBTI communities report having negative experiences with health care services including experiencing discrimination, stigma, isolation, abuse or privacy concerns. This can result in individuals avoiding seeking palliative care support when they need it.
- LGBTI individuals often view family in their own way, instead wanting their ‘chosen family’ to be part of their decision-making, planning and care.
- Recognition of partner(s) by healthcare practitioners especially around decision-making, consent and engagement in care planning.
- Inability of health services to recognise the diversity within LGBTI communities, including intersectionality and the increased risks associated with having multiple barriers to healthcare.
- LGBTI communities may not be fully aware of their legal rights in the palliative care context.
- Issues relating to religion, spirituality and pastoral care.
- Existential distress related to sexuality or gender identity.
The National Palliative Care project (NPCP) will build the capacity of the palliative care sector to provide culturally appropriate services to LGBTI people through the development of e-learning modules targeted towards General Practitioners and Practice Nurses across Australia.
The project will also engage in awareness-raising initiatives to increase knowledge and awareness of palliative care within LGBTI communities.
These two strategies aim to improve the quality of, and access to, palliative care services by LGBTI people.
The National Palliative Care Project has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.