Developing inclusive care homes for older people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans

About the research

Care home staff and managers often lack knowledge about the delivery of personalised care to older LGBT residents.

Older LGBT people’s experiences indicate that they are an invisible
and marginalised population in later life and their life stories and
relationships are frequently overlooked by care providers and staff and
managers employed in care homes.

This action research project was motivated by the lack of knowledge
amongst care staff and managers about the identities, relationships and
life-histories of residents who identify as LGBT.

Key findings

  • The project highlights the value of adopting a coproductive approach
    through the recruitment of volunteer LGBT Community Advisors and their
    collaboration in the planning and execution of the project.
  • Community advisor engagement with staff and managers presented some
    challenges but also opportunities for individual and group conversations
    about differences across sexuality and gender identity. While there was
    some ingrained prejudice (mostly religiously motivated), there was
    evidence of staff being engaged and willing to address prejudices.
  • The evaluation findings showed clear evidence of gains in awareness
    and changes in attitudes by managers and staff during and after the
    intervention. However, concerns remained about the invisibility of
    bisexual and trans residents who are often wrongly subsumed under the
    labels ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’.
  • Some staff and managers equated equality with treating residents
    ‘all the same’ (often based on heterosexist assumptions), which can
    compound inequality. While equality of outcomes should be the goal,
    older LGBT individuals differ between and among themselves and will
    require differentiated provision to meet care needs.
  • Engaging in this type of approach with volunteers must be backed up
    with training and ongoing support, which in this project was provided by
    the project manager. Arranging for volunteers to work in pairs provided
    additional support and de-briefing opportunities.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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