End-of-life care for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people

Colleen Cartwright, Mark Hughes, Tania Lienert
Culture, Health & Sexuality 2012, 14 (5): 537-48
There is little understanding in Australia of the special issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in end-of-life care and advance care planning. This exploratory study aimed to achieve an initial understanding of these issues to inform the development of a larger study involving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service users. Consultations were carried out with 19 service providers and 6 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community members in the Northern Rivers and metropolitan Sydney areas of New South Wales, Australia. Participants reported barriers to health care service access due to discrimination, inappropriate care and lack of knowledge among both consumers and health care workers of legal rights at the end of life. While advance care planning can assist with improving end-of-life care, respondents reported a number of obstacles. These included a lack of knowledge and absence of perceived need and the additional obstacle of social isolation, leading to difficulties identifying alternative decision-makers. The study highlighted the need for education for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and health and aged care providers on existing legal provisions to prevent discrimination in end-of-life care.

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