Older gay men fear alienation in residential aged care, study shows

Older gay men are concerned about moving into residential aged care for fear of being ostracised by residents and their families because of their sexuality, says new study, which comes after confirmation of new ‘diversity strategy’ for aged care.

Older gay men are concerned about moving into residential aged care for fear of being ostracised by residents and their families because of their sexuality, according to new research.

Some of the men said they expected to find homophobic residents, care workers or management in aged care facilities.

“The fear of homophobia is not necessarily from the staff, the greater fear can be from other residents and their families,” said the study’s author Dr Peter Robinson, a senior lecturer in sociology and history at Swinburne University.

The men in the study spoke of their concerns regarding care workers and the possible effect of a culture in which opposite-sex relationships are seen as the norm, he said.

Dr Robinson’s study, which has been published in the journal Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, is based on interviews with 25 men aged 60 and older in Melbourne, Auckland, London, Manchester and New York.

While drawing on a small sample, Dr Robinson’s findings echo previous studies that have documented the concerns of many older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people about moving into aged care.

On Thursday Australian Ageing Agenda reported that the Commonwealth is working with sector stakeholders on a new “diversity framework” to ensure seniors who have special needs, including LGBTI older people, are adequately cared for in aged care (read our story here).

Funding for the national training program to upskill aged care workers to provide inclusive care to LGBTI seniors expired last June.

While anti-discrimination legislation has an important role to play, Dr Robinson said he would like to see training continue for staff at all levels in diversity appreciation and knowledge.

Many aged care providers have been implementing LGBTI inclusive policies and staff training initiatives in recent years.

However, Dr Robinson, who is currently working with Alfred Health on LGBTI inclusive practice, said it was a changing area for healthcare and aged care in Australia.

“HIV was seen as the most pressing issue in the gay community for a long time and now it seems there is more space to talk about other health issues for gays and lesbians,” he said.

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4 thoughts on “Older gay men fear alienation in residential aged care, study shows

  1. With all the research already in place and translation to new policy and procedures, measurement on accreditation standards and best practice guidelines already available, why are we still having an implementation problem?

    I guess all the work from experts and leaders such as EP Rhonda Nay will go back on the shelf.


  2. Great. Another academic posing questions to people yet to enter facilities. Much supposition here from a very small group. The elderly really don’t give a toss of which persuasion you are! We who care for them don’t discriminate either. Everyone should, and does, get treated equally.

  3. A friend of mine in Auckland, gay and in his 70’s, had to pretend to be straight due to a few staff in his care home not being respectful to him as a gay man. My dear friend was so stressed that he couldn’t live out his final months being himself. He passed away from cancer within 3 months of placement in the facility. He said to me 2 days before he passed away he had led a wonderful life, but he was sad how his life was ending. Let’s treat all people equally and provide them with a good standard of care and dignity irrespective of their sexual orientation.

  4. So sad to read Reg Jarvis story. I do hope this is rare in the aged care industry. Like majority of groups in Australia training in our facility has incorporated LGBTI recognising needs. We had a gent in his 70’s move in who was gay. He and his friends were all treated with respect as should all people regardless of being straight or gay. I never appreciated the struggle of the older LGBTI community until sitting with this gent to listen to him and his stories of hiding who he was. Our older community accepted him for who he was, no judgement, the elderly folk did not care about this aspect of him, they liked or didn’t because of him. The greatest compliment we received before this gent passed away after a few years living with us was it was the first time he could be himself, he felt like he was part of a family. I was more saddened that this happened late in life, but happy in the knowledge he was incredibly happy in his final years. Attitude of people does make a difference, organisations need to play their part through training and education of staff, incorporate the assistance of the LGBTI Community too.

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