Olivia Luijnenburg is Research Associate at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce. (374 words)
On the 7 July, Sue Westwood organised a workshop on Religion, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity in Adult Care at the University of York. Over twenty delegates were there from lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) charities or representative groups, care providers, chaplaincies or other religious organisations involved in care, and different universities. The workshop was a space to discuss opportunities and challenges around religion, people identifying as LGBTQ+, and adult care. The morning consisted of ice breakers, conversations on what religion means to the delegates, and a first look at the briefing document that was sent to all. This created a better understanding of delegates’ experiences, ideas, and potential worries. It also created a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts about sensitive topics such as rejection, sexuality, conflicting ideologies, and prejudice.
Inclusive adult care is a continuous topic of conversation and there are some positive initiatives to make adult care more inclusive for people identifying as LGBTQ+. However, anecdotes exist of homophobia in adult care, people going back in the closet when moving into residential care at a later age, and LGBTQ+ older people worrying about discrimination when needing care. Many care homes accommodating older people have a religious ethos and there is a lack of knowledge around how this influences care practice, including LGBTQ+ care home residents. To understand what can be useful in broadening care workers’ and residents’ knowledge around such topics, sensitising all people involved in adult care, and contributing to more inclusive care homes, more research needs to be in place to inform policy.
The afternoon consisted of further breakout rooms where delegates had conversations about what some of the challenges might be when conducting research about these topics, what is an appropriate methodology and recruitment strategy, and which topics are research priorities. As both religious and LGBTQ+ communities deal with stigma, prejudices, and highly personal issues, it is challenging to conduct research that is sensitive yet direct and informative. The workshop was a great success, and all delegates were happy to continue the conversation and be involved in any future studies. Creating an inclusive space for people with different ideologies to discuss their experiences and thoughts is often an inspiring breeding ground for positive change.
Olivia Luijnenburg is Research Associate at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce.