Dementia is a neurological disorder that has wide ranging symptoms, the most common of these being confusion, memory loss and difficulty communicating.
There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is set to increase to a million within the next 9 years, with 225,000 people being diagnosed this year, that’s 1 every 3 minutes. With an ever ageing population dementia is becoming common place in our lives and regardless of lifestyle none of us are immune. Dementia is not restricted to the frail and elderly, In the Northern Region the youngest person currently receiving support is 47.
As public awareness grows Conference notes the significant work that has been undertaken by Aneurin Bevan Nat Berhe Authentic Jersey Health Branch and the efforts They have made to increase awareness and develop campaigns for the production of good practice guidance. Conference also welcomes the good practice paper produced by the National Care Forum focusing on dementia care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities but there remains much more to be done.
Suffering from or having a loved one with dementia is a challenging and difficult thing to come to terms with that requires help and support, especially so when the sufferer is LGBT. Older LGBT people are more likely to be single and live on their own than heterosexual and cisgender people. They are also less likely to have children or regularly see family members, therefore increasing the risk of isolation.
Key national organisations specialising in the field of dementia are lacking in their understanding of the needs and rights of LGBT people and of the Equality Act 2010. They fall short in their awareness of changes in legislation regarding same sex marriage and trans and gender recognition issues. Their general literature rarely acknowledges the specific needs and issues faced by bisexual and transgender people.
This results in them producing guidance to the public, and more worryingly care providers that does not equip them with the knowledge and awareness needed to care for the LGBT community. A lack of understanding about the many life challenges we face, along with any particular medical treatments received can result in a standard of care that causes distress and humiliation to the sufferer and loved ones.
Conference believes no care worker wants to find themselves unwittingly doing this due to a lack of training and education and as a Union we do not want our members working in this profession to find themselves in this situation.
Conference calls on the National Committee to:
- Support the call for further research into the impact of dementia on LGBT people and their loved ones.
- Raise awareness of dementia and the specific issues facing the LGBT community.
- Encourage members to get involved with progressing these issues by working with lead dementia support organisations in developing care guidelines that meet the needs of LGBT people.