The Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics Returned on the 11th – 13th August for the 18th year, presenting a wide range of events to inspire and engage people across a range of topics, from end-of-life choices to the cost-of-living crisis. Amongst those, an important event touching on LGBTI+ Elder Care was chaired by the Highlands and Islands SNP MSP, Emma Roddick.
The event welcomed Karen Hedge, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Care, and Carrie Bates, member of the National Theatre of Scotland LGBTI+ Elders Social Dance Club, in discussion with Ms Roddick about the experiences of the LGBTI+ community when they need to receive or go in to care.
The panellists touched on key issues experienced by the LGBTI+ community in the care system, such as how their LGBTI+ identities are often ignored or dismissed, leading to a loss of cultural identity and feelings of loneliness and isolation, ultimately disempowering LGBTI+ people. However, they also discussed in depth the issues faced by carers, such as the lack of safe spaces for LGBTI+ carers to disclose that they are LGBTI+, lack of paid diversity and inclusion training during working hours, and low levels of pay for such demanding and important work.
Commenting on the event, Emma said:
“The event was amazing, we had such an insightful discussion about the care system in Scotland and how it could better cater for the LGBTI+ community, both in terms of LGBTI+ carers and LGBTI+ individuals receiving care. Karen and Carrie really stole the show with their expertise on the matter.
“The audience was so engaged with the discussion as well and we got to hear so many experiences from people who are in the care system. It was heart-breaking to hear stories of individuals that were forced to move far from their homes to Edinburgh because they were refused care in their hometowns on the grounds that they were LGBTI+, and it was deeply upsetting to hear about the prolonged amounts of time they had to wait to receive care.
“Having said that, we had a few carers in the audience who expressed such commitment to supporting LGBTI+ people to be their authentic selves. I feel hope for our future care system to be more inclusive to cater for LGBTI+ people and I’ll continue advocating for the rights of the community through my work.”