Tackling the inequalities in menopause care and support

Recently, Joined Up Care Derbyshire (JUCD), an Integrated Care Partnership, won the Menopause Friendly Employer Award for ‘Most Inclusive Menopause Friendly Employer’ for the work of its Midlands-wide Menopause Inequalities Programme. Steph Taylor shares how the programme is dedicated to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for menopause care and support for ethnically diverse and LGBTQIA+ colleagues.

Menopause has always been a big topic in my family. My mother had a full hysterectomy when she was just 40 and my sister was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency at the age of 36. These experiences have shed light on the unique challenges people face during menopause, challenges I’ve seen firsthand through my family’s experiences.

A Journey Towards Inclusivity

This programme started with Nicola Bullen, Associate Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. While working hard to ensure the wellbeing of all our employees, she came to realise that certain minority communities face significant barriers when it comes to menopause support.

There is a significant gap in research, resource allocation and support, particularly for our transgender and non-binary colleagues, as well as there being a substantial imbalance in menopause support and awareness in relation to a person’s ethnicity.

We began this work by addressing the gendered nature of most menopause branding and content, which has historically been centred around white, middle-aged cisgender women. We worked with an incredibly talented queer designer who created a brand that speaks to our core demographic and ensures that all colleagues experiencing menopause or menopause-like symptoms feel seen and valued.

We’ve teamed up with exceptional doctors, experts, and passionate menopause advocates who share our commitment in addressing inequalities in menopause care. By working together, we have been able to start to develop a series of resource materials for colleagues. These materials use the appropriate language, facts and figures for people of colour and for transgender and non-binary people on how their menopause journey may differ to those of their white, cisgender peers. Our goal is to ensure that everyone has access to information that reflects their unique journey through menopause.

We have also provided online training and webinars for colleagues. This is training that everyone can access and sessions that are ongoing, often touching upon health inequalities wider than menopause.

We are working to ensure that our Primary Care Providers and our team leaders have the correct training, as they are often the first port of call when someone is struggling and needing help. All our online sessions are tailored to educating both those who are experiencing menopause and those looking to support their colleagues, with separate specific training for our Primary Care Physicians.

Across JUCD, the Wellbeing Team have recently introduced Menopause Wellbeing Champions. This is an incredible group of people who are actively raising awareness across all sites, setting up and running “Menopause Cafes” and talking to colleagues about menopause from many different viewpoints and offering support to those who need it.  We’ve also piloted targeted Menopause Cafes for JUCD’s BAME and LGBTQIA+ networks. These offer colleagues a safe space where they can share stories and offer and receive advice from a group of people who truly understand what they may be experiencing.

A Collaborative Approach

Central to this programme is the collaboration between ourselves and the brilliant network of Wellbeing, Occupational Health and EDI leads across health and social care in the Midlands. These passionate individuals and health care professionals proactively amplify our message and make our events accessible to a diverse range of professionals, helping us really highlight the significance of diversity within menopause experiences.

Looking ahead

We’ll be busy for the next couple of months finishing our bank of resources that we will share widely across the Midlands. This includes information around trans and non-binary menopause, ethnicity and menopause as well as information that colleagues can take to, or use to talk to, their GP and manager(s) about what they are experiencing and what support they require.

Government statistics show three in five people experiencing menopause believe their symptoms have a negative impact on them at work and nearly a third said they had been unable to go into work because of their menopause symptoms. It is so important that we look after and retain our NHS workforce.

This World Menopause Day, I encourage health and care staff to:

Steph Taylo

Steph Taylor (she/they) is the Project Lead for the Midlands Menopause Inequalities Programme. Steph has a particular interest in reducing health inequalities for the LGBTQIA+ community and looking at how care pathways can be improved. Before joining the NHS, they worked with NHS trusts across London focusing on improving colleague wellbeing as well as working in digital data for other organisations to support them in offering better experiences for their audiences. Steph is driven by their own experiences as a queer individual accessing healthcare and aims to make healthcare access and experience more positive and understanding for others.