Alfonso Pezzella, a Mental Health lecturer at Middlesex, has been awarded a research grant from Erasmus+ (Key Action 2) to develop a culturally competent and compassionate LGBT+ curriculum in health and social care education.
Research has demonstrated that LGBT+ people experience social exclusion while interacting with health and social care providers and that their needs are often overlooked and undervalued. In some cases, they experience direct discrimination within health and social care environments.
While many countries have their own national laws on equality and LGBT+ rights, these may not always be monitored or respected. For example, a same-sex couple married in the UK may not be seen as a married couple in other parts of the world or even Europe.
Current health and social care curricula in educational institutions pay little or no attention to sexual or gender diversity. This can result in health and social care educators exacerbating problems and ignoring LGBT+ identities.
"Individuals mostly come into contact with health and care staff when they need help and may be vulnerable. This vulnerability could be compounded if people are concerned that they may be judged, discriminated against or not treated fairly."
Led by Alfonso Pezzella this project builds on previous work carried out by the Intercultural Education of Nurses in Europe (IENE) and aims to enhance the skills of teachers and trainers regarding LGBT+ issues. Commenting Alfonso said:
“Individuals mostly come into contact with health and care staff when they need help and may be vulnerable. This vulnerability could be compounded if individuals are concerned that they may be judged, discriminated against or not treated fairly.
“The vast majority of health and care staff want to do their best for their patients and clients. The teaching tools we are developing aim to help them do this and ensure that LGBT+ people receive the care they need in a culturally competent and compassionate manner without fear of discrimination.”
The project has six other EU partners involved: Edunet in Romania, Cyprus University of Technology, the University of Almeria in Spain, the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Rome and St Augustinus Fachkliniken in Germany will be collaborating on the project.
The aims are to develop teaching and learning tools to be used by health and social care educators/trainers in order to improve their own knowledge and confidence in teaching LGBT+ issues, to develop the knowledge of health and social care professionals on how to support LGBT+ patients and meet their healthcare needs and to produce best practice guides on how to develop an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum.
In May 2020 the research team will pilot a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to support participants in developing an awareness of LGBT+ needs in health and social care across Europe and the world. The MOOC will help participants to acquire relevant knowledge, professional skills and key competences, including intercultural, social and digital skills. It also aims to improve participants' confidence in establishing positive communication, friendly environments, positive interactions and relationships with LGBT+ individuals.
This project builds on the work and programme developed by Irena Papadopoulos, Professor of Transcultural Health and Nursing at Middlesex. The IENE programme was established in 2008 and has since then, received funding from the European Union for eight projects.
Find out more about Mental Health and Social Work at Middlesex.