LGBT people would like end of life care specifically for them

Presentation at the RCN international research conference highlights needs of older LGBT people

Nearly two-thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people would like end of life care services specifically for them, research has found.

Healthcare organisations and professionals need to consider how the legacy of historical discrimination against LGBT people impacts on older generations of LGBT people, according to researcher Jane Seymour.

Professor Seymour, a nurse and social scientist at Nottingham University, presented research into the end of life care needs of older LGBT people at the RCN International Nursing Research Conference in Nottingham today.

The study, led by Kathryn Almack, also at Nottingham University, surveyed 237 people who were LGBT aged 60 years and over or under 60 and in a partnership with a LGBT person aged 60 or over.

The researchers also conducted 60 in-depth interviews.

Professor Seymour said: ‘Older LGBT people have lived through times when attitudes were less tolerant and legislation criminalised them.

‘In the last few years there has been liberalisation but the legacy of that period is very much present in the lives of the older generations.

‘That becomes very important when thinking about end of life care.’

In the interviews, one woman told the researchers she feared going into the ‘heterosexual environment of a care home’ and ‘going back into the closet’.

A 70-year-old lesbian told the researchers gay specific end of life care services could give a sense of security.

Another issue raised in the interviews was people becoming isolated from their families and being unable to rely on them when they neared the end of their lives.

Professor Seymour said older LGBT people can feel at risk of discrimination when accessing end of life care services, which can be stigmatising ‘in and of itself’.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said they would like to access end of life services run by LGBT people.

The research was funded by Marie Curie Cancer Care.

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