Better support for LGBT people in later life

New research explores how housing and care providers can better support LGBT people in later life

Housing 21 have produced new research which identifies the needs and aspirations of older LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and looks at how housing and care providers can make a positive impact on their lives. The research is entitled 'Improving the housing and care experiences of LGBT people in later life' and can be found on this LGBT research paper.

At present, some LGBT people struggle to find choice in the housing and care sector. Therefore, this research, authored by Antony Walker, Research and Evaluation Officer, and Zoe Wilkins, Customer Engagement Officer, examines the LGBT market, investigates their needs and wants and sets out how we can make a difference. They spoke to staff and customers at Housing 21 as well as various LGBT support groups across the country.

Antony Walker explains: "This report shows the difficulties older LGBT people face even now, particularly in enclosed communities such as sheltered or extra care schemes. No one should have to hide who they are, especially in what should be their 'golden years', it goes against all we strive for. We heard stories of isolation, of carers reluctant to be near gay clients and of them having to 'go back into the closet again'".

Zoe Wilkins added: "Many of the issues are less obvious, such as hiding pictures of their partners before they have people round or feeling isolated in reminiscence groups because they have no children to discuss with the group. We can and must make a difference. We have set up a staff support network and are working on creating something for our customers. However, all of us have a role to play; whether it is supporting fellow staff members or supporting our customers."

Key findings from the research include:

  • there is a small but significant and growing LGBT market with its own needs, wants and aspirations¬†
  • older LGBT people want their services to understand them as people and to recognise their cultural needs as distinct from that of the mainstream
  • they experience a later life where services can inadvertently exclude and isolate them, services that feel orientated towards the requirements of heterosexuals
  • some older LGBT people have high support needs having been cut off from their family or having no children. There is evidence that older LGBT people are more likely to have a history of mental health issues and alcohol or drug abuse problems.

As a result of this research and engagement with the LGBT community, Housing 21 have recognised the need to act to:

  • make services accessible and earn the trust of LGBT people
  • expand training on diversity issues
  • endorse informal support networks

If you have any questions on this research please contact Antony Walker, tel: 0370 192 4000 (ext:25467)