Many in the world do not feel that that they can be their authentic selves. As healthcare providers, we see that struggle firsthand. On National Coming Out Day, which has been observed annually on Oct. 11 since 1988, we reflect on the coming out journey many individuals experience. Every day, individuals face a difficult decision about whether or not to seek healthcare or to come out to their healthcare provider and get the care they need.
At Ohio’s Hospice, we support the LGBTQ+ community by providing compassionate and supportive care to everyone so they can be true to who they are. Today, we join with millions of people across the nation to support those in the LGBTQ+ community as they express and share their authentic selves.
If your loved one is facing the end of life, the need for comfort, dignity and respect is crucial. But the patients in the LGBTQ+ community often face unique circumstances that often require an additional level of awareness and sensitivity by hospice care teams.
To ensure that Ohio’s Hospice is extending that same comfort, dignity and respect to its LGBTQ+ patients and their families at the end of life, as a community-based organization, we became SAGECare certified in 2019 and continue this certification annually. All staff receive initial and annual SAGECare training on the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals at end of life so they can better understand and respond to those needs.
You can be assured that Ohio’s Hospice provides every individual who is served by the organization the same superior care and superior services, and that every patient, family, staff member, volunteer, and community member feels welcome and supported by Ohio’s Hospice, its care teams, and its teammates.
Providing inclusive and culturally competent care to LGBTQ+ patients is crucial to assuring a safe environment as they approach the end of their lives.
“The end of life, no matter how sudden or expected, is difficult,” said Craig Schrolucke, vice president of mission engagement and brand care at Ohio’s Hospice. “To know that you and your loved one will be treated with dignity and respect and feel comfortable receiving the needed care provides peace of mind to patients and families.”
For LGBTQ+ adults, the end of life of a partner can prompt uncertainty if family or friends might be unaware of their identity or if documentation such as living wills, healthcare power of attorneys, right of disposition of remains documents, and property deeds are not completed.
“When my partner died unexpectedly, I learned that we had most of the documentation in place, and most family members were aware of our relationship. But some were not, and it was a bit of a coming out process,” Schrolucke said. “However, for some LGBTQ+ individuals, they can have the rug pulled out from under them. Housing, food, security, and finances are all things that could be uncertain, as well as a potential unplanned coming out experience for some individuals, causing the patient not to receive or to postpone receiving care.”
These are all important factors for care providers to understand and to incorporate in their work as they serve patients and their families. In these cases, social workers are able to work with the patient and their loved ones to identify their individual needs and navigate end-of-life care conversations, connect them with additional resources, and assess their bereavement support needs.
The care and support Ohio’s Hospice provides patients and families does not end when the patient dies. Bereavement counseling professionals, who also are trained through SAGECare, provide loved ones with grief counseling and support. These services provide LGBTQ+ individuals a safe and comforting space to grieve and receive the support they need.
“Our mission is to celebrate the lives of those we have the privilege to serve,” Schrolucke said. “We work hard to ensure that their end-of-life experience is a time that members of the LGBTQ+ community can feel honored and celebrated for who they are.”
- To learn more about how Ohio’s Hospice is committed to providing inclusive care, click here.
- To learn more about why inclusivity matters, click here.
- To learn more about community resources for the LGBTQ+ community, click here.
Join our mission to provide superior care and services to all our patients by being your authentic self on National Coming Out Day and every day. We understand the importance of embracing authenticity and supporting the LGBTQ+ community, especially in healthcare. To learn more, click here: https://www.ohioshospice.org/careers/