East Cheshire Hospice is involved in a pioneering project aimed at providing patients from the LGTBQ+ community with better support.
The charity is one of the three Cheshire hospices benefitting from a £22,000 grant from Cheshire Freemasons, in partnership with Hospice UK.
St Luke’s, Winsford, and Hospice of The Good Shepherd, Backford, are also involved in the 12-month scheme.
The project improves accessibility to hospice services for LGBTQ+ people by ensuring support is fully inclusive and meets the needs of all patients.
LGBTQ+ development facilitator Ellen Coleman offers support and training for staff across the three hospices to improve their approach and make them more accessible.
Her role includes providing additional resources, making policy changes and ensuring databases and paperwork are inclusive.
From left, Ellen Coleman with Kate Estcourt from St Luke’s Hospice and Simon Palfreyman, Harry Wright and Steve Simpson from Cheshire Freemasons.
East Cheshire has also trained five champions to raise the level of staff knowledge around how best to support LGBTQ+ patients.
Ellen said: “The fact I’m hired purely to work on this project is quite a new thing and hopefully other hospices around the country will adopt a similar approach soon.
“Initiatives focused on equality, diversity and inclusivity are often combined with other roles in many organisations in health care and social care settings.
“East Cheshire Hospice have fully embraced the project and part of my role is to deliver training so when staff engage with patients, families and colleagues they are confident about using the right language. During recruitment the right questions must also be asked.”
Research by the charity Stonewall shows many LGBTQ+ people avoid accessing health and social care services due to a fear of discrimination, or a history of negative experiences.
Ellen said: “The three hospices in Cheshire want to remove this fear for LGBTQ+ people. The response has been fantastic and we aim to provide continuity after the initial 12-month project.”
Sarah Dale, Director of Quality, Innovation and Collaboration at East Cheshire Hospice, said: “We’re extremely grateful for this grant from Cheshire Freemasons, which will help members of the LGBTQ+ community who want to access our services feel like they have a safe, supportive, and welcoming space to do so.
“Palliative and end of life care is about having one chance to get it right, so it’s really important that people from all communities feel comfortable and are able to talk about everything that’s important to them, including their gender identity and sexuality.”
The grant from Cheshire Freemasons is through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Harry Wright, from Cheshire Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased that we’re supporting this vital project which is working hard to help more members of the LGBTQ+ community feel like they’re welcome to access health services and support.
“Although it’s a great shame that there is still a need for this kind of work, I’m very glad that these three hospices are reinforcing their commitment to treat all patients with respect, regardless of their sexuality or gender.”