Department of Health

Public hospitals can apply a person and family centred care approach to ensure LGBTI inclusive and responsive care is provided to patients and their families Person and family centred care is aligned with quality and safety, shared decision-making, equity, health literacy, healthcare rights, healthcare experience and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards, through the national accreditation scheme. 

To enable the delivery of effective person and family centred care it is critical that staff have a good understanding of the particular issues and needs of LGBTI people. This understanding will ensure that LGBTI people have equal access to healthcare and to receive high-quality safe care, have their health care needs equally well met and are meaningfully involved in decision making about their health and wellbeing and the wellbeing of their family, carers and community.

Hospitals should ensure staff are aware of the health impacts of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status and are competent to identify and address, in their area of expertise, specific health problems and treatment issues for LGBTI people their families.

Hospitals need to pay particular attention to issues that may arise for LGBTI patients in the context of emergency care when pressured need for urgent decisions may not allow for considered assessment of all relevant social factors, and in the context of life threatening conditions and death when intimate partner and family relationships may clash.

Responding to the needs of people who are LGBTI

Strategies to better respond to the needs of LGBTI people in public hospitals include:

Communication

  • Use gender-neutral words such as “partner” and other inclusive terms.
  • Clarify the appropriate pronoun and mailing title to be used where appropriate.
  • Where clinically relevant, asking patients open-ended questions about their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, rather than waiting to be told by the patient.
  • Be willing to involve domestic partners in decision-making.
  • Avoid questions about sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status that are not clinically relevant.

Practice environment

  • Ensure intake and assessment forms have the capacity to reflect gender and sexual diversity.
  • Provide choice regarding documentation of next of kin, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in the health record and letters, and ensure that information is treated confidentially.
  • Train reception and intake staff to be sensitive to people who are LGBTI.
  • Have a written practice policy on anti-discrimination, including issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.
  • Design intake forms to be inclusive of all relationships and genders.
  • Where room assignments are gender-based, ensure these are undertaken based on the patient’s self-identified gender.
  • Maintain confidentiality with each patient.
  • Maintain a comprehensive resource list for appropriate referrals to LGBTI organisations.

More detailed guidance relating to specific services provided by public hospitals can be found in the following sections of this guide:

Mental health services
Pregnancy, birth and maternal and child health services
Rural services
Sexual health services

References

Anderson, S., McNair, R., and Mitchell, A., 2001, Addressing health inequalities in Victorian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, Health Promotion Journal of Australia: Official Journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals 11(1):32.

Levasseur, D., Meyer, E., Lovells, H., Snowdon, S., 2013 Creating equal access to quality health care for transgender patients: transgender-affirming hospital policies, Lamba Legal, New York City Bar, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, New York.

Reviewed 29 November 2021

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