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DiversityNursing Blog

Inclusive Care for LGBTQ+ Patients: Nurse Best Practices

Posted by Ryanna Brown

Mon, Jun 17, 2024 @ 11:54 AM

In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, it is crucial to prioritize inclusivity to deliver top-notch care to all patients. This is especially significant when tending to LGBTQ+ individuals, who often encounter distinct obstacles and inequalities in healthcare.

As Nurses, we play a vital role in championing patient care and establishing a warm and inclusive environment. Here are some practical suggestions to promote inclusivity for LGBTQ+ patients in healthcare settings.

Educate Yourself and Your Team

Continuous Education: Keep up to date with LGBTQ+ health issues, terminology, and cultural competence through ongoing training and professional development. This involves gaining an understanding of the unique health risks and concerns that LGBTQ+ patients may encounter.

Resource Utilization: Make use of available resources such as the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index and the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center to stay updated on best practices.

Use Inclusive Language

Respectful Communication: Always use the patient’s preferred name and pronouns. It's perfectly okay to ask kindly, "What name and pronouns would you like me to use?"

Avoid Assumptions: Avoid assuming a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationships. Instead, use gender-neutral language like “partner” rather than “husband” or “wife,” until the patient informs you otherwise.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Visible Signs of Support: Show your support for inclusivity by prominently displaying symbols such as rainbow flags or Safe Zone stickers in common areas and on your name badge. These small gestures can greatly enhance patients' comfort levels.

Inclusive Intake Forms: Make sure intake and medical history forms are inclusive, providing choices for different gender identities and sexual orientations. Be sure to include a section for patients to specify their preferred name and pronouns.

Foster a Non-Judgmental Atmosphere

Active Listening: Listen attentively and compassionately to your patients' concerns and experiences without any hint of judgment. Validate their feelings and experiences to foster trust and rapport.

Confidentiality Assurance: Reassure patients that their confidentiality is a top priority. It's important to acknowledge that LGBTQ+ individuals may have concerns about privacy due to past experiences of discrimination.

Advocate for Inclusive Policies

Policy Development: Advocate for the implementation of non-discrimination policies within your healthcare facility that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Inclusive Training: Encourage your institution to provide regular training on LGBTQ+ inclusivity for all staff members, including administrative and support staff.

Address Health Disparities

Screening and Preventive Care: Be mindful of the specific health risks LGBTQ+ patients may face, including higher rates of mental health issues, substance use, and certain cancers. It is important to customize screening and preventive care to address these unique risks.

Mental Health Support: Recognize the importance of mental health support for LGBTQ+ patients, who may experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Provide referrals to LGBTQ+-friendly mental health professionals when necessary.

Create Support Networks

Peer Support: Facilitate the creation of support groups for LGBTQ+ patients within your healthcare facility. Peer support can be a valuable resource for individuals facing similar challenges.

Community Resources: Familiarize yourself with local LGBTQ+ organizations and resources that can offer additional support and services to your patients. Provide this information to patients as part of their care plan.

Creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ patients is not only a professional responsibility but also a moral imperative for Nurses. By educating ourselves, using inclusive language, fostering a welcoming atmosphere, and advocating for supportive policies, we can ensure all patients receive the compassionate and respectful care they deserve. Our dedication to inclusivity can greatly enhance the healthcare experiences and outcomes for LGBTQ+ individuals, ultimately contributing to a more fair and just healthcare system.

Topics: LGBTQ Healthcare, LGBTQ community, LGBTQ health disparities, best practices, LGBTQ+ patients

Best Practices In Caring For Vision Impaired Patients

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Jan 03, 2020 @ 12:17 PM

visionimpaireddogVision impaired patients face many challenges when visiting hospitals for treatment. There are different ways staff and hospital design can help assist patients who are struggling.

According to research from JAMA Ophthalmology, vision-impaired Medicare beneficiaries and commercial health insurance patients had significantly higher healthcare utilization and costs during and immediately after hospitalization. This is happening because vision-impaired patients have difficulty following hospital routines and struggle to read discharge orders and medication instructions. The excess costs were estimated at more than $500 million annually.

Hospital staff can play a major role in helping these patients by being actively engaged with them and their families.

Lisa Allen, PhD, MA, Chief Patient Experience Officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, which includes the Wilmer Eye Institute, says, "The biggest issue is to ask the patient or the patient's family what they need to keep them safe. We need to ask that question to everybody, but that patient engagement question is the most important piece for visually impaired patients. When we assume there is a one-size-fits-all for the visually impaired, we are making a mistake. In other words, if you are not a braille reader, and many blind people are not braille readers, then having braille is not going to help when you are in the hospital."

According to Health leaders media, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute shared their best practices for caring for vision-impaired patients which included measures designed for discharge and medication management, patient safety, and special accommodations.

Johns Hopkins provides discharge instructions in large font type and has the capability to audio-record instructions for patients. They also provide discharge instructions in a format that can be used with a screen reader.

Johns Hopkins staff are trained to promote safety. After surgery, all Johns Hopkins patients have a staff member with them when they are getting up for the first time and when they are walking the hallways.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) says, staff should initiate an introduction to a patient who is blind by addressing the patient by name. They should always identify themselves by name and function and the reason they are there.

At the University of Miami Health System's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, stairwells are designed to lower fall risk for vision-impaired patients. They lengthened the staircase guard rails so they extend beyond the bottom of the stairs.

Johns Hopkins is implementing a Bluetooth way-finding app that can be used from home and while using public transportation. "We made sure when we bought the program that it had voice capability, so it can tell you to go to an elevator, it can tell you that you are at an elevator, it can tell you what floor button to push, and it can guide you throughout the inside of the hospital", said Allen.

If your health system does not have a bluetooth way-finding app, the ADA recommends being verbally specific. When a visually impaired patient wants to independently find their way with a cane or a guide dog, be sure to use right and left as they apply to the person who is blind. What is on your right is on the left of a person facing you. For example indicate the number of blocks, hallways, or doors to the elevator. Let the patients know exactly how far the bathroom is located outside of their room or where their food is closely located to them inside their room and what the food is. Verbal interaction is key.

It is important to offer assistance in a way that is not demeaning to the patient. With more research and input from patients, the future of health system's best practices should improve to provide even better patient care.

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Topics: blind, blind patients, vision impaired, best practices

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