Ageing LGBT individuals face exclusion in social and care settings

elderly care

The University of Hertfordshire in the UK has released a paper highlighting an urgent need to address the unique care needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people

The article, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans Aging in a U.K. Context: Critical Observations of Recent Research Literature, has identified that, alongside the life-limiting conditions that older individuals face and that can cause them to be socially excluded, members of the LGBT community of this age may face additional layers of exclusion due to their past lived experiences of inequality and oppression.

“Despite recent socio-legal shifts, older LGBT people are still often an invisible and marginalised population in care settings and their life stories and relationships are frequently overlooked by care providers. These issues need to be addressed to ensure equitable access to care services for all in old age,” said Kathryn Almack, Professor of Health, Young People and Family Lives at the University of Hertfordshire.

The article notes that the oldest generations of LGBT people have lived through times when social attitudes were less tolerant; legislation criminalised gay men and enforced social sanctions on LGBT people. As such, in addition to their potential lack of support networks, LGBT people – and particularly those residing in residential care sites, as this area of healthcare has been identified as a potential site of discrimination and exclusion emanating from both staff and residents – may delay seeking treatment until their disease is at an advanced stage due to previous experiences of discrimination by healthcare providers.

Professor Almack noted that despite there being evidence of good practice in addressing the health and social care needs of older LGBT people, this is most often led by committed individuals and therefore good practice needs to be embedded more firmly across health and social care provision, as well as in undergraduate and post-registration curriculums. “A key finding in our research was that forms of discrimination are not always overt but may include more subtle and sometimes unintentional forms of discrimination that are less easy to challenge,” she added.

Ultimately, the article identifies that more research into the needs of older LGBT people is required in order to ensure these individuals receive the respect, support and high-quality level of care they are entitled to.