New Online Resources for LGBTQ Community End-of-Life Care

Written on 05/21/2021
Staff Columnist

New online resources have surfaced for the LGBTQ community to help with end-of-life care – CBC News reports.

In an interview, CBC News spoke to Aimee Taylor, a Vancouver woman who battled cancer for eight years. Taylor lives with her wife and daughter and says heteronormativity and discrimination toward LGBTQ people still filter through the Canadian healthcare system after her experience with palliative care.

"I've had social workers ask if I have a supportive husband at home ... and even one that wasn't sure how to fill out forms because I was married to a woman," Taylor told the CBC.

Canadian Virtual Hospice says it is making changes through its new online resources, called 'Proud, Prepared, and Protected to help the LGBTQ community navigate its palliative care needs.

Executive Director Shelley Cory told the CBC that over 100 community members, including many from B.C., and more than 40 organizations helped to address the problem.

"The healthcare system commonly underserves people who identify as Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+, and there were no resources tailored to their palliative care needs," she explained.

A social work professor at the University of Waterloo and a contributor to the project, Susan Cadell, said that people in the LGBTQ community have to worry if their chosen family will even be considered family in the eyes of the healthcare system.

Taylor said her wife is regularly mistaken for a sister or friend whenever she is at healthcare appointments, even though it's noted in the official documentation.

"We point it out each time," she said, "and their reaction is 'oh, it doesn't really matter. We just have to put something down.' … (But) language matters, and our marriage matters. It just wouldn't have happened if I'd arrived with a man."

Cadell told CBC that people often get misgendered, or their pronouns are misused after death by the family, who may not be accepting of trans people.

"It's hugely upsetting for the folks who do accept that person," she explained.

Taylor feels the new Canadian Virtual Hospice resources are "fantastic." People can take the paperwork to the clinic or hospital to help healthcare workers understand the patient's core relationships and decisions.

"I would encourage everybody, whether they're sick or not, to look at these tools," she said. She hopes older LGBTQ people will be proactive about their end-of-life care.

Taylor said healthcare workers should feel comfortable asking patients to clarify their relationships and not make assumptions. "Just take pause. Challenge your heteronormative thinking," she said.