Dignity in care: we understand more than most why it’s important

Alternative Care Services is a care agency providing support and social care for older LGBT people in their own homes.

Founded by Ramses Underhill-Smith, the company was created after Ramses saw a HIV-positive friend risk his health by rejecting care in his own home, over concern that the care workers might be homophobic.

Some of our staff are trans, gay, bisexual, and from the LGBT community, some aren’t, but all get training in treating patients with dignity.

“If you’ve had surgery and you’ve got scars, you don’t want people looking at them in a certain way. We’re so used to it in the LGBT community – it’s not even the words people say, but the fact that everybody stares. You don’t want to have to explain when you get undressed for personal care.”

Ramses Underhill-Smith: ‘People refuse to accept it when you’re older.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

“It’s about knowing that whoever comes to your door is going to understand who you are, that in conversation you’re going to be able to say things openly.” Some frail older people, he points out, barely see anyone but health professionals; if they can’t talk to them honestly, they are completely isolated.”

We are proud that we help provide dignity, support and comfort to our clients and thrilled that our work has been featured in The Guardian.

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