Social care is a broad term which encompasses a wide range of services provided by the local authority, either directly or through commissioned private services, to vulnerable children and adults.

It can describe services such as help with washing, dressing, feeding or assistance in going to the toilet are also included, as are meals-on-wheels and home-help for people with disabilities.

Southwark Council provides social care in an integrated model with health care services, this means that services should be joined up and coherent.  There is an increasing number of service users who are being given control over the funding side of their support package, this is called personalisation.

A 2008 survey found that 45 per cent of LGBT respondents had experienced discrimination when using social care services (CSCI 2008). There are many potential reasons for this and a growing body of evidence about what services could and should be doing to better support LGBT service users.

A policy briefing in 2011 by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the Constorium of LGBT Voluntary and Community Organisations highlighted that: 

  • LGBT people are increasingly likely to become more confident and visible as people who use services and carers, so care and support services need to be ready to welcome them.
  • LGBT people need to be able to choose services that are supportive, safe and culturally appropriate for them in both community and residential settings.
  • LGBT people are more likely to come out to staff if they feel comfortable and safe to do so. Training for non-judgemental, relationship-based working is key.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity are just aspects of who people are and LGBT people have many other facets to their identity such as disability, race, faith and age.
  • LGBT people need to have accessible, sensitive mainstream services as well as the opportunity to get support from specialist services.
  • Commissioning for personalisation means nurturing the type of peer support, community and voluntary activity that happens in LGBT communities.
  • Commissioners, providers and practitioners should treat every individual with dignity and respect. 
SCIE also produced a series of web videos to support social care practitoners working with LGBT clients.