Sanjay Dhrona discusses creating an inclusive environment and how he makes sure everyone feels welcome and supported at his care home.

I lead one of the greatest nursing homes in the country and I am a gay British man with Indian heritage, as well as a director at The Outstanding Society. I know my team and the challenges they face; the complexities around understanding, celebrating, and facilitating diversity in their teams and for their residents. As we celebrate Pride month, LGBTQ+ issues will be at the forefront of many people’s minds and if you aren’t from the Rainbow Family sometimes understanding the challenges an LGBTQ+ person can face in your service or setting can be tough.

When I started work in Adult Social Care, nearly 10 years ago, I was worried about what my team and residents would say about having a leader who was LGBTQ+. I quickly found out; they didn’t give two hoots! Now if we try and understand why that can really support us in how we operate in the workplace.

The residents have been there and done that, they are experienced and have seen things in their years that we haven’t even thought about. Who I wake up with doesn’t matter to them. However, that should not take away from the fact that it was the older generations that maybe didn’t show the kindness and compassion to LGBTQ+ people in the past, and that made identifying as LGBTQ+ illegal. In today’s day and age people and their opinions can and have changed.

The past triggers can stay with people, and so caring for an older LGBTQ+ can mean that you need to consider their past experiences and the associated fears and triggers in the way you support them and make them uncomfortable, welcome, and included in your setting. Especially where care is delivered in a community setting. What can you do to let them know this is a safe and inclusive space? How can you display this, outwardly so that people know no matter who they are, you are there to support them.

The community face less prejudice daily nowadays, however that doesn’t mean that one’s past doesn’t create defence mechanisms in oneself and the way we may interact with others. So sometimes it can take time and the right reassurances.

When it comes to your team and colleagues, the same premise can apply – we all work better knowing that we are comfortable and accepted. However, mistakes can/will occur, so use each mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow, accept that you may have made mistake, apologise sincerely, and learn from it.

A great resource can be found with The Outstanding Society for those working in or interested in Adult Social Care and it has recently set up an Out Standing Diversity Forum. Check out the website for more information.