'We Treat Them All the Same’: the Attitudes, Knowledge and Practices of Staff Concerning Old/er Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Residents in Care Homes

Paul Simpson, K Almack, P Walthery

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16 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The distinct needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGB&T) residents in care homes accommodating older people have been neglected in scholarship. On the basis of a survey of 187 individuals, including service managers and direct care staff, we propose three related arguments. First, whilst employees’ attitudes generally indicate a positive disposition towards LGB&T residents, this appears unmatched by ability to recognize such individuals and knowledge of the issues and policies affecting LGB&T people. Statements such as, ‘We don’t have any (LGB or T residents) at the moment,’ and ‘I/we treat them all the same’ were common refrains in responses to open-ended questions. They suggest the working of heteronormativity which could deny sexual and identity difference. Second, failure to recognize the distinct health and social care needs of LGB&T residents means that they could be subject to a uniform service, which presumes a heterosexual past and cisgender status (compliance with ascribed gender), which risks compounding inequality and invisibility. Third, LGB&T residents could be obliged to depend largely on the goodwill, knowledge and reflexivity of individual staff (including people of faith) to meet care and personal needs, though such qualities were necessary but not sufficient conditions for inclusion and no substitute for collective practices (involving commitment to learn about LGB&T issues) that become integral to care homes’ everyday functioning. A collective approach is key to advancing inclusion, implementation of legal rights to self-expression and securing equality through differentiated provision.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing & Society
Early online date29 Dec 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Dec 2016

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