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Supporting LGBTQ+ carers


Excerpt from Supporting LGBTQ+ carers: A good practice briefing

When West Sussex County Council (WSCC) went out to retender its Carer Short Break Provision (day respite services for carers of frail older people and/or those living with dementia) it included a performance indicator measure on LGBTQ+ participation. In the past, it had asked providers to monitor ethnic minority participation, but hadn’t previously asked for data on sexuality and gender identity to be collected.

To ensure that staff had the understanding and skills to collect data in an appropriate way, and to improve staff knowledge of issues that may be faced by LGBTQ+ carers, the Council commissioned training from All Sorts. LGBTQ+ awareness sessions were delivered for all Short Break Provision staff and this training was very well received.

To maintain the momentum of this initiative, the Council then ringfenced some funding and made it available to providers wanting to improve their practice further. This resulted in WSCC part funding Carers Support West Sussex (CSWS), the county’s provider of Information, Advice, Assessment and Support to carers, to apply for the Pride in Care award. Pride in Care is a quality standard awarded by Opening Doors London, an organisation supporting older LGBTQ+ people who use health and social care services.

After applying for the quality standard, CSWS took part in a year-long assessment process, in which Opening Doors London reviewed its work plans, policies and communications, as well as carrying out a survey with all staff. Opening Doors London found that CSWS’s policies demonstrated inclusive practice, with the staff wellbeing policy described as “genuine and welcoming”.

CSWS’s application was successful and it was recently awarded Good practice in… Improving LGBTQ+ awareness amongst staff Supporting LGBTQ+ carers: A good practice briefing 17 Pride in Care in recognition of its quality care and support to LGBTQ+ carers aged over 50. To build on the momentum of this work, CSWS recently set up an LBGTQ+ Allies Working Group to collect and showcase LGBTQ+ case studies, review processes and identify gaps in knowledge and training, and share information about local LGBTQ+ initiatives.

CSWS is committed to making the organisation a positive place to work for staff and volunteers from all backgrounds, and to reducing barriers for LGBTQ+ carers in accessing support services. It has taken a number of steps to become an LGBTQ+ inclusive organisation and despite the challenges of the pandemic, successfully went through the Pride in Care application process.

West Sussex County Council convene the local Short Breaks Provision forum which enables providers to share best practice. Since the LGTBQ+ training sessions, many local carers organisations are now going along to local LGBTQ+ events like Worthing Pride and sharing information about their services.

Going forward, the Joint Carer Commissioner is planning to support other organisations to apply for the Pride in Care standard. The main criteria for accessing some funding for this, and a key factor in determining how successful an organisation is in becoming LGBTQ+ inclusive, is having ‘buy-in’ at all organisational levels. From Board level and CEO downwards, staff must own the change that is needed. The ultimate goal is that whenever someone contacts an organisation, they have a positive experience and that this is not down to chance – ie who picks up the phone to them or sees them on that day.