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Government-funded report calls care for LGBT people with dementia ‘a woeful failure’

Josh Jackman March 30, 2017

A government-backed report has condemned the standard of care for LGBT people with dementia as “a woeful failure”.

The government-backed study, which has been three years in the making, has said older LGBT people tend to be more isolated than their straight, cis counterparts.

A lack of research can be blamed on the widespread assumption that older people are not LGBT, the report indicates.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission told the study that “older LGB people have been overlooked in health and social care legislation, policy, research, guidance and practice, which assume service users are heterosexual.”

The study was conducted by The National LGB&T Partnership, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group and The National Care Forum.

They have concluded that the national debate about dementia care “seems to be bypassing a whole section of the LGBT community – those in later life.

“This is a woeful failure, particularly considering that the national health and social care agenda is meant to be driven by concepts of personalisation, collaboration, choice and control.

“Given these ideals, it is a gross oversight that people from LGBT communities with dementia are unlikely to be considered when care is being commissioned.”

The 1.2 million older lesbian and gay people in the UK are less likely to have children than straight older people, and therefore “may be estranged from their family and feel more isolated,” the report states.

“This isolation is compounded if you also have dementia.

“For example, people with dementia who are moving into a care home rely even more on family to help them prepare for the move, to come in and support them and ensure staff get to know them; someone from the LGBT community may not have that same network.”

It also quotes the Social Care Institute for Excellence as saying that “commissioners and providers don’t often think about LGBT people when planning and delivering services, but this does not mean that LGBT people are not using services or do not want to use services.”

Overlooking LGBT people in this way reflects long-standing ageist attitudes, the report says, specifically in the popular assumption that “older people are no longer sexual beings…sexuality and intimate relationships are topics that are often avoided or disregarded”.

Gill Boston, manager of the group which created the report, said: “The best social care takes people’s needs and meets these holistically.

“This must include a recognition of people’s sexuality or gender where it is appropriate to do so.”

Boston said a necessary solution was to build a workforce that is “trained and developed by people from LGBT communities themselves.”

More: dementia, elderly, Government, Health, healthcare, LGBT

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