Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have revealed an urgent need to recognise and address the unique care needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT).
A new report found that 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.
Analysis shows that because of the discrimination they face in care settings, LGBT people are unable to disclose important aspects of their life at a time of heightened vulnerability.
This has led to further issues at the end of their life. For example, LGBT people may delay seeking treatment until disease is at an advanced stage due to previous experiences of discrimination by health-care providers. Other issues include a potential lack of support networks, and their loss and grief not being fully acknowledged.
“These issues need to be addressed to ensure equitable access to care services for all in old age,” said Kathryn Almack, a Professor of Health, Young People and Family Lives who has been conducting research in this area since 2010.
“While there is evidence of good practice in addressing the health and social care needs of older LGBT people, this tends to be led by committed individuals and needs embedding 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.”