OPINION: Benefits of personalised care for LGBTQ+ older adults

Anna May, head of quality assurance at The Good Care Group, reveals the benefits of personalised, live-in care for older LGBTQ+ adults.

Anna May, head of quality assurance, The Good Care Group

At The Good Care Group, our team has seen first-hand the unique challenges that older people from the LGBTQ+ community face when choosing care in later life.

On a personal level, from meeting and working with many people over the years, I know that many from the LGBTQ+ community, who are reaching older age and need now to begin to receive care, will have lived through tumultuous times of judgement and lack of acceptance in their earlier years. 

Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice remain concerns, with many older LGBTQ+ adults fearing mistreatment from formal caregivers or other people using a care service who may hold homophobic or transphobic views. This fear is often compounded by historical trauma and experience, as many older LGBTQ+ adults have lived through periods of intense social discrimination. 

 To address these challenges, it’s crucial that care providers ensure that their staff recruitment and selection processes are values based. To be able to deliver truly personalised, bespoke care to every individual client, care providers should only be recruiting team members who fully embrace and respect everyone they work with.

Further to this, we also have a social and moral responsibility as care providers to offer ongoing awareness and inclusion training. For many people who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community, they may not be aware of the fear and worry that may be present for older LGBTQ+ adults as they enter older age care. As care providers we need to educate around and champion this issue.   

 At The Good Care Group, we are fully committed to values-based recruitment, and we also ensure that our inductions include specific training around protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010. We do not and will never accept any person, colleague, or client, being discriminated against due to their life choices, background, or identity. We continue to regularly offer refresher training and create opportunities to talk, reflect and re-evaluate how we can ensure that we are being everything that our clients from the LGBTQ+ community need us to be.

Recently, one of these reviews has led to us creating a steering group made up of colleagues who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. We have also invited clients to join, and we are really excited to hear and see real, lived experience as to all that we do.  

Social isolation can be another concern. Some older LGBTQ+ adults may lack familial support, and moving into a care home can separate them from their established communities, in turn reducing their social support network. At The Good Care Group, we offer a one-to-one care service at home, where our clients stay in their own home and community and so continue to live the life they always have – just with our support where needed.  

In terms of privacy and dignity, shared accommodations such as residential care homes might lead some older LGBTQ+ adults to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. With live-in care at home, older LGBTQ+ adults can stay in a familiar environment and potentially feel more comfortable to maintain their identity.

By creating an inclusive environment where sexual and gender identities are respected without judgement, we build trust so we can deliver the most effective care, and where our clients feel comfortable to express themselves freely without discrimination or stigma. 

 At The Good Care Group, and across our sister organisations Oxford Aunts and Cherished Home Care, we champion and celebrate all people as their authentic selves. The specific needs, choices, wishes and opinions of each individual client are assessed before they are carefully matched to a carer based on their care needs, but also their interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. 

 We have always been, and will forever continue to be, open, welcoming, and inclusive to all colleagues, clients, and client representatives. We are proud of our diverse client group and team of colleagues, and our culture where all can feel equally at home. 

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