Ensuring the safety of elderly LGBT+ people in care homes

Elderly LGBT+ people are hiding their sexuality in care homes, as healthcare staff fight internal discrimination to protect LGBT patients & staff

There are 1.4bn people over the age of 60 alive today - more than at any other time in history. With developments in healthcare technology, people are able to live fuller lives for longer, with some elderly people choosing to live in care homes. 

At the same time, the number of people identifying as LGBT+ is rising. In a survey by Ipsos, 1% of the Baby Boomer generation identified as LGBT+ - with that rising to 4% of Gen Z. 

However, research shows that members of the LGBT+ community are facing discrimination and even abuse during their golden years in care settings. 

Mandatory training for healthcare staff to support LGBT+ patients

London is internationally recognised as a city that welcomes the LGBT+ community, yet abuse of elderly LGBT+ care home residents has been revealed. 

Ted Brown and Noel Glynn met at a Pride march in 1972 and went on to have a civil partnership. But after Noel was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, he was housed in a care home in Croydon, South London. Upon his arrival, the couple were warned by other LGBT+ care home residents not to reveal their relationship to staff, because "that won't be good for either of you". Ted later discovered bruising across Noel’s body and a cigarette burn on his hand. Noel was awarded £30,000 by Lambeth Council in compensation for the abuse, but died before receiving it. The compensation will now be passed onto Ted. 

This case has led to calls for mandatory LGBT+ training for healthcare professionals by Compassion in Care, a London-based charity.

"Victims often have no children so they don't have that network of people visiting them, which means that there is less scrutiny and that makes them more vulnerable," explained Compassion in Care’s report author Eileen Chubb

Care for elderly LGBT people

Silver Pride: Care homes designed to welcome LGBT+ people

Elsewhere in London, the first LGBT+ retirement community Tonic Housing offers residents a roof garden with a bar, as well as a cafe and restaurant. 

“The demand is evident,” says Bob Green, Tonic’s Head of Operations. 

Tonic Housing conducted research which found that just 1% of LGBT+ Londoners over the age of 50 would consider living in a general retirement home, but 50% were interested in LGBT+ specific care homes. 

Care provider Belong has several care villages and has been working hard to train staff, safeguard patients and eradicate any form of discrimination. The staff host an annual Silver Pride Day, which celebrates senior members of the LGBT+ community, some of whom spent their youth fighting for their rights, while others remained closeted. This event is a day for everyone to be themselves. 

“The event was about fun and entertainment as well as showcasing the care options open to older members of the LGBT+ community and creating a 'safe space' where people would feel comfortable expressing who they are,” said Belong Crewe’s Natalie Ravenscroft

As the population of those aged 60 and older widens, care settings will need to ensure that healthcare staff members are both willing to care for a diverse range of patients and have the training to do this with compassion. 

 

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