Compassion & Choices Announces Formation of LGBTQ+ Leadership Council

Coinciding with this month’s Pride celebration, Compassion & Choices today announced the formation of an LGBTQ+ Leadership Council.  Following the model established with its successful African AmericanLatino and Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Leadership Councils, this new group will explore innovative ways to inform, empower and elevate work already being done in the LGBTQ+ community to improve end-of-life care, and advance the national nonprofit’s mission of ensuring all Americans can chart an end-of-life journey that is aligned with their personal priorities, family values and spiritual beliefs.

The council is composed of leaders at the intersection of healthcare and the LGBTQ+ community, with years of experience advocating for improving end-of-life care for all. These partnerships will result in new ways to engage and elevate LGBTQ+ voices in end-of-life care spaces.

One of Compassion & Choices strategic goals is to raise awareness and take action to address barriers to accessing equitable end-of-life healthcare that the LGBTQ+ community faces. The Council will work to build partnerships with LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations to help educate and empower LGBTQ+ people to chart their own end-of-life care journey. 

“The members of the LGBTQ+ council each bring their stories and years of experience to guide Compassion & Choices on how to best support our communities, with our shared goal of ensuring everyone gets the care they want at the end of their lives,” said Compassion & Choices LGBTQ+ Outreach Manager Osha Towers (they/them) “There are many unique and diverse needs within the LGBTQ+ community, and the Council will help elevate them within the end-of-life care and options movement.”

Compassion & Choices recognizes that the end of life can be more difficult for LGBTQ+ people and their families due to continued bias, discrimination and under-representation of LGBTQ+ relationships. LGBTQ+ Americans face an array of healthcare disparities throughout their lives and face barriers to receiving formal health care and social support that heterosexual, cisgender people do not.

A recent article published by the official journal of the Gerontological Society of America noted that “43% of respondents of a 2018 survey of 865 hospice professionals reported having directly observed discriminatory behavior toward LGBT patients.” The article goes on to say that “Acknowledging the patient’s identity, significant relationships, and providing a nonjudgmental environment is a first step to opening the door to true person-centered care for LGBT patients.”

“The unique experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals at the end of life are too often invisible and not explicitly discussed,” said LGBTQ+ council member Kelly Rice (they/them). “The Council can serve as a body that can raise and amplify the voices of these communities and to help ensure that everyone has a voice at the table.” 

“The council will provide information and guidance to Compassion & Choices in their efforts to raise awareness in the LGBTQ+ community for patient centered care,” said LGBTQ+ council member Allyne Hammer (she/her/ella). “We must work to close disparities so that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community has equal access to all end of life options.”

Members of the LGBTQ+ Leadership Council include:

  • Florrie Burke (She/Her)
  • Stella Dawson (She/Her)
  • Phil Duran (He/Him)
  • Carrie Framsted (She/Her)
  • Allyne Hammer (She/Her/Ella)
  • Blake Oshiro (He/Him)
  • Kelly Rice (They/Them)
  • Barb Timper (She/Her)