(In the picture, The Pink Competency Health Team: Mathias Holst and project coordinator Hanne Børke-Fykse)
How can health professionals meet their non-heterosexual patients constructively and positively?
What aspects of sexual orientation need special attention?
When is an extra effort important, and is sexual orientation ever irrelevant?
These questions form the basis of the trainings that Pink Competency has been providing to health care professionals nationwide in Norway since 2006. And if people have other questions, which they always do, we will answer them too. No question is too stupid, ignorant, intelligent, or injurious to be asked. We are not easily fazed!
We work on the basis that it is the health care providers themselves who best know how to approach the subject. We offer some
perspectives on issues such as heteronormativity, disclosure, langauge, awareness etc, but we don’t give out blueprints on
’how to deal with LGBT clients’. Health care providers are professionals. We respect that, and leave it up to them to reflect
on how they can meet their non-heterosexual clients with understanding, insight and openness.
Heteronormativity in health care
In a society with heteronormative values, heterosexuality is looked upon as the normal sexual orientation. It states that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between a man and a woman.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have unique challenges related to health and disease. Sexual minority status influences mental well being, the relation to health care providers, the panorama of STDs, and reproduction.
As long as we as a society apply a heteronormative approach to how we understand the world, health- and social workers need to be certain that they possess the knowledge, skills and empathy to provide competent care towards the LGBT population.
The aim of the project…
…is to increase general as well as specific knowledge about the LGBT population, and to increase health care providers’ competency to encounter this population in an emphatic way.
Health professionals are often in a position where they can make a huge difference in peoples lives. Pink Competency works to empower the professions, and to make them aware of the unique role they can play.
A public health strategy
Pink Competency was established in april 2006, and is one of the ways that the Norwegian government works towards reducing health inequalities. The project is not about gay rights, it’s about equality in health care.
The project cooperates with various professions, such as doctors, midwives, psychologists and nurses, also including their professional organizations. We have established partneships with The Norwegian Medical Association, The Norwegian Nurses Organisation, The Norwegian Psychological Association, adn the Norwegian Union of Social Educators and Social Workers.
The project is fully funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Health, and is administered by LLH. We have one person in a 100% position, and one person in a 50% position working on Pink Competency in the health professions (during 2011/2012 we have also started pilot projects to extend Pink Competency to the policeforce as well as to school teachers).
We teach nationawide, and have around one assignment per week.
Key success factors
The project has been rated a great success amongst our partnres and the health professionals themselves. We believe that some of the reasons for this are that:
- Myths and illusions about the lgbt population are explored with lots of humour, and replaced with knowledge
- We work together with all the health professions and their organizations
- We have a network of professionals within the field, that secure the quality of our work at all times
- We don’t preach, we offer some perspectives and teach with respect for the professionals and their competency and reality
- We try to be very practical in our approach, and address issues such as language, awareness, heteronormativity, disclosure etc.
Said about Pink Competency
”The combination of humour, facts and personal stories without being intrusive was particularly good” (school nurse)
”Engaging, funny, incredibly eloquent speaker, no downtime, impressive, close, personal and good examples” (midwife)
”Great teaching approach, using an emotional imagery based on personal experience to reach out to participants. Keep it up!” (general practitioner)
”Interesting and informative. I can now be more confident in my contact with young people at the health clinic” (public health nurse)
”Very nice to meet someone who is not ’an angry lesbian’ and just tells you everything that is done wrong. You talk about empowerment – what we can do by turning around some of our thoughts. Thanks!” (general practitioner)
”A very strong focus on being both professional and human in relation with the client. It also raised my awareness regarding what language I use. We should have had a whole day of Pink Competency!” (nurse)
If you have any questions about the project, please send an email to project coordinator Hanne Børke-Fykse at email@example.com.