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Meeting the needs of older LGBT people

By: Age UK
Published on 14 November 2017 12:00 AM

Older gay couple

A new resource guide will help health and care professionals meet the needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.

Age UK has worked with the older LGBT charity Opening Doors London and author Sally Knocker to develop a new LGBT guide for health and social care providers – an area where resources and guidance is sparse.

The guide, called ‘Safe to be me’, is an essential resource that offers practical advice on being the kind of service in which older LGBT people can feel safe and accepted for who they are.

The resource is written for anyone working or volunteering in health, social care or the voluntary sector who would like to support older people who are LGBT. It will also be helpful for training providers to ensure courses integrate discussions and scenarios relating to the needs of people who are LGBT.

Guided by the voices and experiences of older LGBT people

With helpful exercises, real-life case studies and checklists for good practice, the resource is guided throughout by the voices and experiences of older LGBT people themselves. Voices such as Ian and Julie’s below:

The staff in the home very rarely gave us any time alone together and on one occasion Arthur was taken seriously ill and transferred to hospital without them notifying me. The man I love could have died and I wouldn't have been there or even known.


It was such a relief when the Age UK befriender enabled me to open up about being a lesbian after so many years of hiding. She didn't push but she gave plenty of positive messages that she didn't have a problem. At 78 I finally feel I'm safe to be me.


Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says: 'The sorts of experiences captured in this guide highlight the importance of creating an inclusive environment where people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans can feel safe, secure and accepted for who they are. This is an important resource to help deliver genuinely "LGBT affirming" health and care services and we would encourage any individual professional or organisation involved in this area to use it as part of their practical toolkit.'

Sally Knocker, Consultant Trainer with Dementia Care Matters and Opening Doors London Rainbow Cafe Coordinator, says:  'As we go grey, we don’t become less gay, but sometimes we can feel less visible and more vulnerable. My hope is this guide will encourage teams to realise that it is often the simple things that can help those of us who are LGBT to feel confident that we can be open about our lives and not feel judged for who we are.'

Opening doors

Opening Doors London is the biggest charity providing information, support and social opportunities to older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans(LGBT) older people in the UK.

The charity welcomes new members over 50 and those who wish to support this important work. It also offers training and consultancy packages to help health and social care professionals develop the skills and expertise to make services more appropriate and inclusive for older LGBT people.

Safe to be me

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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