Until now, not much has been documented about the experiences of using self-directed social care support by LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) + Disabled People. However, a recent report by SCIE found that LGBTQI+ LGBTQI+ say they have experienced prejudice and social isolation. They also say they are worried that if they come out to PAs (Personal Assistants) / support workers or those that assess and review their support, then that support could be compromised.
A new report, along with two films and two at a glance briefings, highlight, for the first time, some of the issues faced by LGBTQI+ Disabled People in England. They say that too often they have to make ‘bad bargains’ with PAs / support workers whereby they have (out of necessity) carried on with PA relationships even when there was an element of self-censorship or discrimination.
A man who was not out to his family with whom he lived at the time, said that he had built up enough rapport and confidence with one support worker to come out: “…So I thought I would tell him about my sexuality and he went straight downstairs and told my mum. She was crying. She said to me, ‘Is this true?’ So, I had to lie to my mum and say, ‘I’m not gay.’”
LGBTQI (+ Disabled People say there are many benefits to using Self Directed Support, such as having more choice and control over their care. But they say that this can be a challenge for a number of reasons. They fear coming out to PAs / support workers because their care might be jeopardised. They say that when care needs are being assessed and reviewed there is a lack of attention to sexual orientation and gender identity. They also say that they can experience social isolation; they have experienced prejudice; and they often feel isolated from the wider LGBTQI+ community.
In a survey, in-depth interviews and a focus group of LGBTQI+ Disabled People who use self-directed social care support, researchers found:
Social isolation is a big issue. When asked about getting support to do LGBTQI+ ‘things’ (e.g. go to an event/bar, have help to have sex with self or others) 22% said that their PAs did not help them with any of these activities.
Having control over support arrangements is the most commonly cited reason in the report for preferring Self Directed Support. Interviewees gave many positive examples of the benefits of Self Directed Support. Previous experiences with agency staff who changed has frequently often led people to opt for Self-Directed Support as they want to be in control of who comes into their homes.
The study demonstrates that the reality of choice and control for LGBTQI+ Disabled People using self-directed social care support varies greatly. In more instances than not, those in the study had reservations about being open with PAs and staff about their sexual orientation or gender identity; they had experienced direct and overt discrimination from some PAs or support workers; they had made ‘bad-bargains’ whereby they (out of necessity) carried on with PA relationships even when there was elements of self-censorship or negative attitudes.
Professor David Abbott, Professor of Social Policy at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, says: Self-directed social care support continues to provide opportunities for LGBTQI+ Disabled People to exercise choice and control over the support that they get. When support from PAs really meets the needs of LGBTQI+ Disabled People, people in our study talked about the positive impact on identity, inclusion and belonging. But our collaborative research also highlights the barriers that people faced and the lack of routine attention being paid to their human and legal rights.
This report highlights the concern of LGBTQI+ Disabled People in England who receive self-directed social care support. Leading to a loss of confidence in their PA’s and support workers. In the light of the report managers must ensure that support staff are appropriately trained, and aware of their responsibilities with respect to; trust, confidentiality, equality, discrimination and duty of care.
Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute
Bettal Quality Consultancy