Palliative care for people of diverse sex, gender and sexual orientation

LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex. This term refers to people of diverse sex, gender, and sexual orientation. While often grouped under the same umbrella, despite some overlap there are many differences between these specific groups. Each individual will have their own needs based on their specific experiences. Data relating to the way LGBTI people may intersect with other identities can be found at LGBTIQ+ Health Australia. It is important to understand how this may affect the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.

Why palliative care matters

Members of the LGBTI community have similar needs for palliative care as the non-LGBTI population. But they are also significantly more likely to report two or more chronic conditions than non-LGBTI. Some of these chronic conditions are life-limiting, and LGBTI people are more likely to present to health services with advanced illness.

Common barriers and outcomes

The long history of discrimination combined with lack of support in times of crisis can be barriers to accessing palliative care services for members of the LGBTI community.

Overcoming the barriers

Here are some suggestions that may assist in improving inclusive and culturally safe care to the LGBTI community:

  • The fear of being placed in institutionalised care can lead people who identify as LGBTI to seeking care too late. Recognising early signs of deterioration, supporting palliative care at home, and finding inclusive services can all make a difference to reducing fear and accessing services in a timely manner.
  • A consequence of health professionals and family members making heteronormative assumptions is distress for people who identify as LGBTI. Advance care planning can assist in recognising family of choice and reduce the chances of family members and healthcare providers going against their wishes.

Learn more

To learn more about the LGBTI community and access to palliative care visit the ELDAC website and the Australian Government Department of Health Exploratory Analysis of Barriers to Palliative care - issues report on people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender or Intersex.

    This information was drawn from the following resources:

    Last updated 02 August 2021