Updated: Saturday, 18th January 2020 @ 5:44pm

Elderly LGBT people 'forced back into closet' as care homes don't meet needs, claims Manchester Uni study

Elderly LGBT people 'forced back into closet' as care homes don't meet needs, claims Manchester Uni study

| By Kenny Lomas

Care workers are not doing enough to meet the needs of elderly LGBT care home patients, according to new research from the University of Manchester.

Researchers from The Universities of Manchester and Nottingham spoke to 189 care home staff in England, and found that many residents would not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity out of embarrassment.

According to the report, the majority of care home staff denied having any LGBT residents among their ranks.

Two thirds of care home staff said not a single resident disclosed their sexual preference at all.

According to Dr Paul Simpson, from The University of Manchester, care homes could be doing much more to address the distinct needs of LGBT residents.

Dr Simpson said: “Most respondents reported: ‘We don’t have any LGBT people at the moment’ but that can’t be true.

“We’re not critical of care homes, as attitudes appear positive. But we do feel many may simply not be able to recognise people who are LGBT.

“That, unintentionally, is likely to force residents back into the closet and deny a lifetime of experience.”

The research also highlighted staff training around LGBT issues are not up to standard, with 78% of respondents saying they had never been provided with any in their current workplace.

Dr Kathryn Almack, from Nottingham University, who took part in the research, said: “The goodwill of individual staff needs converting into a collective resource and translating into strategically informed practice."

Researchers say that one solution is to monitor residents' sexual and gender identities, and tailor their care to meet their needs.

However, just under half of those who took part in the research said they were ‘unsure’ about whether this was done.

Fewer than one in ten respondents said their care home made LGBT-specific literature available and only 8% said their home had any contact with LGBT organisations.

Dr Almack added: “It was common to hear the phrase: ‘I/we treat everyone the same’. While well intentioned, ironically this reinforces, rather than prevents or tackles inequality.

“Encouraging an LGBT-friendly atmosphere needs to be higher on the agenda.

"All residents should have the option and opportunity to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity but never feel forced to disclose information.”

Picture courtesy of Pictures by Ann, via Flickr, with thanks.