Skills for Care

LGBTQ+ Care in Later Life learning framework: evaluation from year one

21 Jun 2024

5 min read

Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield

  • Culture and diversity
  • Good news story

This #GoodNewsFriday and in recognition of Pride month, Dr Trish Hafford-Letchfield reflects upon the impact of the LGBTQI+ Care in Later Life learning framework over the past year. Dr Hafford-Letchfield is Professor of Social Work at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and co-produced the Skills for Care Learning Framework with the LGBT Foundation and people with lived experience and expertise.

It was a proud moment when Skills for Care launched the Learning Framework for LGBTQI+ Affirmative Care in Later Life in February 2023. We had more than 300 people attend our main sharing event representing social care, education and with lived experience and the interest has continued ever since.

As we go into PRIDE month 2024, I look back at the past year to reflect on what has happened since. This is also reflected in the evaluation report commissioned by Skills for Care which looked at how social care organisations are engagement with the Learning and to identify any early but tangible influence or impact on real world users in social care (leaders, managers, educators, and practitioners and those involved with services), what was working well and any barriers and challenges that need to be further tackled and most importantly, their messages for inspiring others.

During the evaluation, I managed to speak with 32 people across 18 organisations, including large providers of care homes, domiciliary care, supported housing, local authority social work teams and commissioners, professional educators and independent trainers, third sector advocacy and faith-based community organisations.

Their engagement and feedback was very reassuring and whilst most of the work reported was aspirational and focused on gaining commitment and planning for change, it was nevertheless enthused by the formality of the Learning Framework which was seen as a long-awaited endorsement of LGBTQI+ issues. This was particularly welcome as a trigger after the challenges of COVID-19 and national lockdown experiences to give a new kick start to refresh Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) work with an intersectional approach that included gender and sexuality.

So what did we find out? Just a couple of important things noted were:

  • The accessibility and relatability of the framework, which was described to some as a ‘go to’ document when organisations are designing new training, new service initiatives or reviewing their policies and procedures.
  • As a trigger for raising issues and introducing discussions about LGBTQI+ issues in their service and the legitimacy of doing so by referring staff to the learning framework as a resource to support staff who may be unfamiliar or lack confidence, knowledge particularly around language and terminology. There were lots of practical examples of including some of the video clips and resources from the learning framework in induction, supervision and team meetings and how these were powerful in enabling staff to listen and reflect on people’s own stories and experiences and in raising awareness.
  • Putting LGBTQI+ issues into the water supply’, as one person put it or ‘usualising’ LGBTQI+ in their everyday business, as another person stated. Several people talked about how surprised they were that acting positively on LGBTQI+ affirmative care wasn’t as challenging as they thought it would be. One person said that just by ensuring that they were thinking about sexual and gender diversity and checking through systematically about how people and staff would see their workplace through an LGBTQI+ lens, really helped them and others to recognise how the learning framework was really speaking to the principles behind person-centred care.
  • Finally, there were noticeable benefits for LGBTQI+ staff, some of whom were reported as becoming more confident in being out at work and wanting to help with implementing change. One organisation included very specific questions about gender and sexual diversity in their annual staff wellbeing survey using guidance in the learning framework and to start discussions about how to improve the workplace culture as a safe and affirming place to be.

As a result of this evaluation, we have since put together a toolkit and made further resources available to support the framework in areas such as LGBTQI+ and religion, good practice examples, to encourage more organisations to engage and to help navigate their way through the many issues and topics we need to address in social care.

So, the future is pride and the future is progressive. I know I have been busy talking about the Learning Framework (683 people between February and June 2024) so I leave you with the question ‘what are you doing to take pride in your work?’

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