Findings from a project run in six Anchor care homes in London will help care homes across the country become more LGBT-friendly.

Funded by Comic Relief, Anchor, which runs the care homes involved in the project, worked with Middlesex University to see how staff training, recruitment and care environments can be improved to make care homes more welcoming for older lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people.

An audit tool, which is being released to mark this week’s Red Nose Day, is being made available so care providers can assess the level of inclusivity of older LGBT people living in their care homes.

The six Anchor care homes taking part in the pilot scheme were: Norton House in Westminster, Greenhive and Waterside in Peckham, Rose Court in Rotherhithe, Bluegrove House in Bermondsey and Silk Court in Bethnal Green.

The project involved teams of volunteers visiting the homes to ask staff questions about their views on how to provide care to members of the LGBT community, and looked at how each home operated.

The Middlesex University teams then worked with Anchor on an action plan to improve services at their 121 care homes across the country. The aim is to share the project findings so that care homes run by other providers in Britain can see how they can tailor the care provided so that older LGBT people don’t feel they have to ‘go back into the closet’ when they move into a care setting.

Brenda Metcalfe, Anchor’s Customer Engagement Manager, who worked with the academic team for nine months, said the project had identified certain improvements while also highlighting how LGBT-friendly Anchor already was.

She said: “We know that for many older LGBT people going into a care home can be a traumatic experience because they don’t know how their fellow residents or staff will react when told about their lifestyle.

“Many older LGBT people are used to living an open life but when they move into care some fear they will have to go back into the closet.  

“Anchor already has an LGBT group who are regularly consulted so that we can shape our services so we were keen to learn from Middlesex University to see how we could further build on this.

“We now have in place a robust action plan, including each home having an LGBT champion and developing an inclusive environment and ambience in each care home that celebrates LGBT diversity. Activity programmes will include, for example, celebrations of LGBT events and cultures.”

Brenda added that there will also be a review of staff recruitment to ensure each candidate is suitable to work with Anchor’s values and behaviour framework concerning LGBT equality.

Since the project, Anchor has set up an Equality & Diversity staff group and has developed training sessions for care staff to enhance their understanding of how to deliver an inclusive level of care.

Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Professor of Social Care, Middlesex University, said: “Thanks to Anchor and funding from Comic Relief, we were able to pilot an evidence-based assessment and development tool designed to support organisations developing LGBT inclusion.

“There has been a lot of interest in the tool which has been made accessible to other organisations developing their services and whom we hope will help to develop it further.”

People can download the audit tool here.

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