The route to success in end of life care: achieving quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Document type
Corporate author(s)
NHS National End of Life Care Programme
NHS National End of Life Care Programme
Date of publication
21 June 2012
Health Services, Minority Groups, Older Adults, Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This guide offers guidance and advice for those working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and for LGBT people themselves, whether giving or receiving end of life care. It provides case studies, key recommendations and issues for health and social care professionals to consider, such as:

  • The importance of avoiding the assumption that someone is heterosexual.
  • The enhanced privacy rights for transgender people provided by the Gender Recognition Act (2004).
  • Avoiding the common misunderstanding that a next of kin needs to be a person related by blood or marriage.
  • Challenges faced if a person has not previously ‘come out’ – the need for end of life care can mean private domestic arrangements are subject to wider scrutiny.
  • Recognising that ‘coming out’ may result in LGBT people being isolated from their families of origin and therefore relying on other support networks.
  • The danger of not recognising the significance of a relationship, which may result in a bereaved person’s grief going unrecognised.

The report calls for organisations and the people within them to have an LGBT-friendly culture and use education and training to positively address communication skills and attitudes. It urges organisations to have a clear confidentiality policy, involve LGBT people in services and promote the use of inclusive language at the end of life, with phrases that do not inadvertently make someone feel like they must reveal their sexual orientation and gender identity.