The Advocacy Project is passionate about equality and diversity. We seek to embed these perspectives in everything we do. In recognition of our expertise in this area, our commissioners ask us to undertake equality and diversity surveys. We ask people, whether residents in care homes or inpatients in mental health wards, to rate their experience of health and/or social care services so that together we can co-produce improvement plans.
Conducting equality and diversity surveys
We suggested to Central and North West London Foundation Trust (CNWL) that we conduct an equality and diversity survey in their inpatient mental health wards following issues that people raised with us through patients forums. The results in 2012 revealed that the wards, at times, presented a hostile environment for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) communities that was not helpful in terms of supporting recovery. Lack of awareness and understanding was tackled through training and coaching for CNWL ward staff, and the introduction of rainbow lanyards on CNWL staff ID badges. Wearing a rainbow lanyard is a personal choice for NHS ward staff, and signifies an LGBT friendly person and environment. These small but important changes resulted in a substantial improvement in the survey in 2016:
“The ward environment needs to change to be more directly welcoming for LGBT people, and patients need to know that homophobia will not be tolerated, the same way racism is not tolerated.”
LGBT advocacy needed
Given the prevalence of mental health problems in LGBT communities and the very particular issues that they face, one of our funding priorities is raising the resources we need for an LGBT advocacy service. Watch this space!