Personalisation of Care– The LGBT Perspective

The Colchester Home Instead office hosted a very thought provoking presentation by Daniel Bunker from ‘Outhouse East’ entitled ‘Older LGBT People: The need for recognition.  LBGT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

A wide range of participants attended the talk including Jean Allen and Steve Willoughby, owners from Frinton and Brentwood Home Instead offices respectively and caregivers from the Colchester office. They discussed the subject along with community matrons, hospice staff and staff from voluntary agencies.

Through his presentation Daniel hoped participants would gain a better understanding of what it means to be LGBT and their needs for social care as they age. Dan described how changes in legislation which began in the 60’s had been slow. The latest change was the 2010 Equality Act which makes discrimination against lesbian and gay men in the provisions of goods and services illegal.

The health statistics for LGBT people show this section of society is more at risk for number of factors such as:

  • LGB people are more likely to smoke
  • Older LG people are 3 times more likely to live alone
  • Lesbians are less likely to attend routine mammography and cervical smears
  • Young gay men are 7 times more likely to have attempted suicide

Older LGBT people come from an era where they had to hide their true identity to avoid serious social or official penalties for being open about their sexual identity. Sir Ian McKellen wrote:

Older gay men and women in the UK have lived through positive changes in public attitudes. Yet when you are brought up to believe you are unnatural, age doesn’t always help you take advantage of social changes”

Recipients of home care worry that the standard of care they receive may go down if their carer knows about their sexuality, so, to avoid this, many will ‘desexualise’ their home and their identity

Although it is estimated 5-7% of the over 60 population are LGBT, the trend from many organisations is to assume an older person is heterosexual.

A key message from this presentation was the premise that ‘an equal service is not about TREATING EVERYONE THE SAME’. Personalised care needs to be personalised to that individual.

At the end of the presentation attendees enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by Julie Price, owner, Home Instead Colchester, were able to  network with each other and look at  samples of literature available to any organisation including a pamphlets from AgeUK ‘Lesbian, gay or bisexual. Planning for later life’