Atheist Chapter

6 Simple Steps towards LGBT Inclusivity for Public Health Nurses

Inclusion and diversity are key issues for all organisations, workplaces and public spaces. Now, more than ever, there is a greater focus on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people and making sure they are heard, respected and considered. Healthcare is no exception. However, many public health nurses still feel that their knowledge is lacking when it comes to caring for LGBT patients.

The curricula of healthcare professional courses at many colleges and universities are still lacking in modules that provide an insight into the unique needs and health risks for individuals who fall outside the ‘traditional’ heterosexual orientation of society.

Research continues to show that LGBT People experience a number of health disparities including higher rates of smoking and alcohol and substance misuse, higher rates of anxiety and depression and a greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, many frontline healthcare professional, including public nurses, may create or contribute to these barriers and prevent LGBT patients from receiving to quality care due to a lack of understanding and personal bias.

So what steps can public health nurses take to help to ensure that they provide the best care possible for their LGBT patients?

Many health care providers have made significant steps in seeking specialist advice. For example, participating in LGBT Foundation’s ground-breaking Pride in Practice programme to implement systems that develop a clearer understanding of LGBT patient’s need and improve the quality of services that they offer.

Some key steps toward ensuring better LGBT inclusivity in your practice are:

  • Help enforce a zero tolerance policy regarding abusive behaviour and offensive language, specifically referencing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Make sure that this policy is displayed and clearly visible for patients to see
  • Develop and implement a clear equality and diversity policy that mentions the consideration of all patient’s needs, including sexual orientation, gender identity and trans status. This sends out a clear message of your commitment to providing the best care possible to meet the needs of your LGBT patients
  • Put up posters, offer leaflets and visual communication specifically relating to LGBT communities and services. Again, this shows patients that you are trying to provide the best advice and support as possible
  • Consult with LGBT patients, staff and/or advocates on the development of services
  • Implement sexual orientation monitoring into service structures
  • Recognise that not all patients will feel confident to correct an incorrect assumption of sexual orientation or gender

And finally, if in doubt don’t forget to seek advice and help. LGBT organisations across the country can provide advice and information on how you can provide your patients with the best care and support possible. For example, LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Practice scheme is a quality assurance support service that strengthens and develops Primary Care Services’ relationship with LGBT patients in their local community.

Additionally, the LGBT Consortium will shortly be releasing a Nurses’ Toolkit, which will be an invaluable resource with information and practical advice when working with LGBT patients. More information on this to follow soon. For more information you can also visit the Pride in Practice section of our website HERE.


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