New research looks at how self-directed social care is assessed and reviewed for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI) disabled people.
More than 90% of those we spoke to said their sexuality and gender identity needs were either not considered at all or were only given some consideration.
There are also clear examples of good and promising practice. Our report, briefings and films, created in conjunction with the University of Bristol, Regard and Stonewall and funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s School for Social Care Research have, as their starting point, the idea that LGBTQI disabled people find self-directed support a very positive and empowering thing.
It means having control over support arrangements and, amongst the people in our survey, this has been a popular reason for people opting for self-directed support. One thing they’ve told us is that all too often agency staff would change with little notice. One respondent told us they didn’t want strangers in their house and now they can choose their personal assistants or support staff, going on to say that if you get the right person, it can be ‘transformative.’
Of course, sometimes disabled people are left with no choice but to carry on with a personal assistant or support worker where there is simply no other choice. They say that too often they have to make ‘bad bargains’ with assistants or support workers whereby they have, out of necessity, carried on with difficult relationships with them. One told us they once hid a copy of a gay lifestyle magazine out of concern about what the assistant’s reaction would be.
Less than a third of the people we spoke to told us that they are comfortable talking about LGBTQI issues with local authority staff. Often this is because they think they would be discriminated against by their council on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Regard co-chair Ju Gosling says the research findings echo the lived experiences of its members, including Dr Gosling Ju herself as a direct payments user.
There’s enough in the report to show councils can do more to ensure staff are aware of this issue and to ensure disabled people receiving self-directed care don’t experience discrimination. But we’re hoping with increased awareness of LGBTQI issues in society and within local authorities, and with the increase in the use of self-directed support, more LGBTQI disabled people will see improvements to their lives.
Pete Fleischmann, head of co-production, the Social Care Institute for Excellence