Health and Social Care

How the National Care Service can best meet the needs of LGBTI+ people

April 13, 2023 by No Comments | Category National Care Service

LGBT Health and Wellbeing is an organisation which promotes the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTI+) adults in Scotland. Rebecca Hoffman, Policy and Research Officer writes about how the National Care Service can best meet the needs of LGBTI+ people.

It is vital that the Scottish Government’s new National Care Service is built to meet the needs of all people in Scotland. In many ways LGBTI+ people’s needs are very similar to the rest of the population when accessing health and social care. People hope to receive a good standard of care and to be treated with dignity and respect. They hope to feel safe in their homes, and in the community, and to feel understood and accepted.

Current barriers LGBTI+ people face

There are however additional barriers which impact LGBTI+ people and the confidence in which they engage with public services. These barriers can often prevent LGBTI+ people from accessing services all together.

LGBTI+ people, as part of a minority group experience minority stress. These external stressors (such as discrimination) can have negative impacts on the physical health and mental wellbeing of the community – leading to systemic health inequalities. Although LGBTI+ people share similar experiences with regards to their identity, it’s important to remember that the LGBTI+ community is a hugely diverse group of people made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer people who might also be disabled, a person of colour or from a minority faith community. People’s needs and experiences will vary depending on who they are and how they are perceived by civil society.

It’s also important to remember that many older LGBTI+ people who are at a stage in their life where they need to access health and social care, will likely have had negative experiences with statutory services in the past. Often this can be attributed to the historic criminalisation of homosexuality, misunderstandings of queer and trans identities and stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS from the 1980s to early noughties. Although the healthcare system in Scotland has significantly improved in its treatment of LGBTI+ people, there are still instances where people are discriminated against due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex identity. There are also instances where LGBTI+ people’s identities and support systems are misunderstood and devalued because they are often different to traditional ‘nuclear’ family networks.

How can the NCS support LGBTI+ people?

The NCS can best meet the needs of everyone in Scotland by recognising the ways in which marginalised communities have frequently been left behind.

We have a phrase we like to use in the LGBTI+ sector, “what works for the minority, works for the majority”. This is to say; by adopting a truly person-centred, intersectional approach to developing policy that takes into account the experiences of people who experience inequity in healthcare and wider society, we can ensure our systems meet the needs of all people in Scotland.

We can start to “get this right” by:

  • Listening to the experiences of LGBTI+ people in healthcare and health and social care and take them into account when shaping policy
  • Improving transparency around rights and streamlining complaints procedures
  • Ensuring that all individuals working in health and social care receive LGBTI+ equalities training that is built by experts with lived experience of being LGBTI+
  • Developing systems which are accommodating of alternative kinship/family networks

By recognising the impact(s) of these past experiences and committing to making equitable change, the NCS will be better prepared to meet the needs of the LGBTI+ community.


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